Nuclear Issues

531 Items

A nuclear advanced designated marksman assists in a launch facility exercise.

Beau Wade, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

A Sense of Purpose: The Bedrock of the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent

| June 2020

"The paradox of war is, the adversary will always move against your perceived weakness.  So a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent is there to ensure a war that can never be won, is never fought." Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis went on to say, "I am absolutely convinced that having this safe, secure, and effective deterrent is critical—the most critical piece of our nation's defense."  “At the end of the day, deterrence comes down to the men and women in uniform.” The question this paper addresses is: how do we motivate Airmen to give their best to perform this unsung duty, day after day, for years at a time?

 

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Postponement of the NPT Review Conference. Antagonisms, Conflicts and Nuclear Risks after the Pandemic

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has published a document from the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs concerning nuclear problems and tensions in the time of COVID-19. The document has been co-signed by a large number of Pugwash colleagues and personalities.

Chernobyl welcome sign

Wikimedia CC/Jorge Franganillo

Journal Article - Futures

Accumulating Evidence Using Crowdsourcing and Machine Learning: A Living Bibliography about Existential Risk and Global Catastrophic Risk

    Authors:
  • Gorm E. Shackelford
  • Luke Kemp
  • Catherine Rhodes
  • Lalitha Sundaram
  • Seán S. ÓhÉigeartaigh
  • Simon Beard
  • Haydn Belfield
  • Shahar Avin
  • Dag Sørebø
  • Elliot M. Jones
  • John B. Hume
  • David Price
  • David Pyle
  • Daniel Hurt
  • Theodore Stone
  • Harry Watkins
  • Lydia Collas
  • Bryony C. Cade
  • Thomas Frederick Johnson
  • Zachary Freitas-Groff
  • David Denkenberger
  • Michael Levot
  • William J. Sutherland
| February 2020

The study of existential risk — the risk of human extinction or the collapse of human civilization — has only recently emerged as an integrated field of research, and yet an overwhelming volume of relevant research has already been published. To provide an evidence base for policy and risk analysis, this research should be systematically reviewed. In a systematic review, one of many time-consuming tasks is to read the titles and abstracts of research publications, to see if they meet the inclusion criteria. The authors show how this task can be shared between multiple people (using crowdsourcing) and partially automated (using machine learning), as methods of handling an overwhelming volume of research.

Members of the 576th Flight Test Squadron monitor an operational test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III missile

USAF/Michael Peterson

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Overwhelming Case for No First Use

| Jan. 13, 2020

The arguments in favor of the United States' declaring that the only purpose of its nuclear weapons is to deter others who possess them from using theirs — in other words, that in no circumstances will this country use nuclear weapons first — are far stronger than the arguments against this stance. It must be hoped that the next US administration will take this no-first-use step promptly.

Security Line at an Airport

ahlynk/Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

The Recurring Folly of ‘If You See Something, Say Something’

| Jan. 06, 2020

Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers on Friday that their city might be subject to retaliatory attacks from Iran. “I’m not saying this to be alarmist,” the mayor said as he and his underlings ticked off—in a slightly alarming fashion—a series of defensive measures the city might take after the American air strike that killed the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Though the New York Police Department had received no specific, credible threats, de Blasio and other officials warned of more bag checks at the subways and increased police presence throughout the city. The city is no stranger to terrorism and would maintain a better-safe-than-sorry posture. “If you see something, say something,” de Blasio said.

Recent talk of homeland threats, and the just-in-case operational response, are based on nothing more than the rather uncontroversial assessment that Iran will feel obliged to do something to respond to the killing of Soleimani. The homeland-security practices to which Americans became accustomed after 9/11 long ago became a bad habit—one more divorced than ever before from the kinds of threats the United States might actually face. Intended to calm the public, gestures like the ones de Blasio described presume that Iran would be both reckless and capable enough to target an American city—and that greater vigilance alone would prepare us for that possibility. Now nearly two decades old, the post-9/11 style of security theater also risks masking the real vulnerabilities in the American homeland against a potential Iranian action.

Julius Weitzdörfer speaks at a seminar on managing the impact of nuclear disasters.

Benn Craig/Belfer Center

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Julius Weitzdörfer: Managing the Impact of Nuclear Disasters

| Fall/Winter 2019-2020

Julius Weitzdörfer’s earliest childhood memories are the major global events of 1986—the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and the Chernobyl disaster. Looking back, he realizes that these events must have contributed to shaping his later research interests in managing technological risks. 

Chinese military vehicles in parade.

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Dangerous Confidence? Chinese Views on Nuclear Escalation

    Authors:
  • Fiona S. Cunningham
  • M. Taylor Fravel
| Fall 2019

China and the United States hold opposing beliefs about whether nuclear war can be avoided in a potential crisis or armed conflict. Taken together, these opposing beliefs increase the risk of nuclear escalation and can lead to greater crisis instability.

Image of China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force drill with a ballistic missile launcher

(China Military / 81.cn)

Policy Brief - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Inadvertent Escalation and the Entanglement of Nuclear Command-and-Control Capabilities

    Author:
  • James Acton
| Oct. 29, 2018

The risks of nuclear escalation between the U.S. and China or Russia are greater than ever given the possibility of misinterpreted cyber espionage and military strikes against early warning systems. What can be done to reduce this risk?