Nuclear Issues

284 Items

Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-17 ballistic missiles roll during a parade, Oct. 1, 2019.

AP Photo

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Assessing China-U.S. Inadvertent Nuclear Escalation

| Winter 2021/22

Could a conventional war between China and the United States escalate to the nuclear level? An assessment of three mechanisms of China-U.S. inadvertent escalation—use-it-or-lose-it, unauthorized/accidental, and damage limitation—concludes that the risk of China-U.S. inadvertent nuclear escalation is extremely low.

Tomas Roggero via Flickr

Tomas Roggero via Flickr

Report Chapter - Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Assuring Destruction Forever: 2022 Edition

| January 2022

Under the guidance of its self-defence nuclear strategy, China will continue to modernise its nuclear force in order to maintain a reliable second-strike retaliatory capability. China’s nuclear weapon modernisation has been responsive to the advances of military capabilities of other countries, particularly the US. As Hu Side emphasised, “The sole purpose for China to maintain a limited nuclear counterattack force is to deter a potential nuclear strike. However, the development of US missile defense and the long-rang strike capability with high accuracy to target mobile missiles is in practice to decrease the effectiveness of Chinese nuclear deterrence. Thus, it surely leads to Chinese attention."

President Joe Biden meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

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

The U.S.-China Future: Competition and Collaboration With a Rising China

| Fall 2021

Whether they regard it as competitive, cooperative, or confrontational, virtually all observers agree that the U.S.-China relationship is consequential. From cyber norms and AI to military tensions in the Taiwan Strait and the global struggle to turn the tide on climate change, how Washington and Beijing manage their shared future will shape the globe for decades to come. Through research and relationship-building, the Center is dedicated to helping the U.S. and China collaborate and compete without conflict.

teaser image


On China's Nuclear Fuel Cycle

| Dec. 06, 2021

On December 6, 2021, Managing the Atom Senior Research Associate Hui Zhang presented to a virtual meeting of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Merits and Viability of Different Nuclear Fuel Cycles and Technology Options and the Waste Aspects of Advanced Nuclear Reactors. 

Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong, China, in 2019.

EDF Energy via Wikimedia Commons

Book Chapter - Cambridge University Press

Enabling a Significant Nuclear Role in China’s Decarbonization

| Dec. 02, 2021

While China is building nuclear reactors faster than any other country in the world, major constraints may limit nuclear energy’s ability to grow to the scale of hundreds of gigawatts that would be required for it to play a major part in decarbonizing China’s energy system. This chapter explores the major constraints on, and risks of, large-scale nuclear energy growth in China, and how both new policies and new technologies might address them. It focuses particularly on the two biggest constraints – economics and siting. Substantial government policies to support nuclear power and advanced reactor systems designed to address some of the key constraints are both likely to be needed for nuclear to have a chance of playing a major role in decarbonizing China’s energy system; nuclear energy’s role may be bigger in the second half of this century than in the first half.

Photo of military delegates wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus leaving the Great Hall of the People after attending an event commemorating the 110th anniversary of Xinhai Revolution in Beijing, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.

(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

Can the U.S. and Chinese Militaries Get Back on Speaking Terms?

| Oct. 15, 2021

Nearly nine months into the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, Washington’s relationship with Beijing has sunk to a historic low. After a high-level diplomatic meeting in March that devolved into an ugly exchange of insults, fruitless visits to China by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and virtual climate talks that failed to produce clear deliverables, the world’s two great powers have reached a dangerous impasse. 

...If the Biden administration hopes to manage the competition and prevent it from turning into catastrophe, it must take urgent action to establish and maintain open channels of communication between the Pentagon and China’s armed forces.

The demo reprocessing and MOX facilities under construction at Jinta, Gansu. Satellite image from March 1, 2020 (Coordinates: 40.333750, 98.494167). Note that significant construction activities for reprocessing facility project II likely started after December 2020. This March 2020 image shows related ground preparations.


Analysis & Opinions - International Panel on Fissile Materials

China starts construction of a second 200 MT/year reprocessing plant

| Mar. 21, 2021

Commercial bidding and purchase documents and other accounts suggest China is likely to start construction of a second spent fuel reprocessing plant of the same capacity and at the same site as its first such plant, the CNNC Gansu Nuclear Technology Industrial Park in Jinta, Gansu province.

Demonstration reprocessing and mixed-oxide facilities under construction in Gansu Province, China. Satellite image from August 29, 2019.

Maxar Technologies/Google Earth

Report Chapter - Nonproliferation Policy Education Center

China’s Uranium Enrichment and Plutonium Recycling 2020-2040: Current Practices and Projected Capacities

| March 2021

Since 2010, China has significantly expanded its indigenous enrichment capacity to meet the expected rapid increase of enrichment requirements. Meanwhile, China has expanded its plutonium reprocessing and recycling capabilities for “saving uranium.” The purpose of this report is to provide a better understanding of the development of China’s uranium enrichment and plutonium recycling programs.

teaser image

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

Center Experts Reflect on 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima Bombing

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, launching the nuclear age. On the 75th anniversary of that somber event, Belfer Center experts reflect on the event and its aftermath.