Nuclear Issues

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Nigeria's Miniature Neutron Source Reactor was the last operational research reactor in Africa to make the conversion from HEU to LEU. Here, the HEU once used in the reactor is loaded for shipment back to China, the supplier (IAEA).

IAEA

Policy Brief

Securing Nuclear Weapons and Materials Worldwide: Expanded Funding Needed for a More Ambitious Approach

| Apr. 19, 2019

The Trump administration budget request for programs to reduce the dangers of nuclear theft and terrorism is too small to implement the ambitious approach that is needed. Congress should increase funding in this critical area; direct the administration to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for improving security for nuclear weapons and materials worldwide; and exert expanded oversight of this effort. This brief highlights the importance of ongoing nuclear security work; describes the evolving budget picture; and outlines recommendations for congressional action.

Dave Johnson coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun

AP/J. David Ake

Magazine Article - Fair Observer

Sacrificing Nature Is Not an Option

    Author:
  • Kourosh Ziabari
| Feb. 27, 2019

In this edition of "The Interview," Fair Observer talks to Professor John Holdren, former science adviser to President Barack Obama and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2009 to 2017 about the impacts of global warming on the United States and the government's strategies to combat climate change.

FBI agents leave a raid in Trenton, N.J. on July 19, 2012

Julio Cortez/AP

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

The Long Arm

| February 2019

The networks of middlemen and intermediaries involved in the illicit procurement of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related goods and technologies often operate outside of the United States, which presents several legal and political challenges regarding U.S. trade control enforcement activities. This report considers the extraterritorial efforts of U.S. law enforcement in counterproliferation-related activities and their implications. In other words, how does the United States contend with violations of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related trade controls in overseas jurisdictions, and what are the implications for broader U.S. and international nonproliferation efforts, as well as wider international security and economic concerns? 

A member of the Czech Army takes part in an anti-terrorism drill at the Temelin nuclear power plant near the town of Tyn nad Vltavou, Czech Republic, April 11, 2017.

REUTERS/David W. Cerny

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

Revitalizing Nuclear Security in an Era of Uncertainty

| January 2019

Nuclear security around the world has improved dramatically over the last three decades—which demonstrates that with focused leadership, major progress is possible. But important weaknesses remain, and the evolution of the threat remains unpredictable. The danger that terrorists could get and use a nuclear bomb, or sabotage a major nuclear facility, or spread dangerous radioactive material in a “dirty bomb,” remains too high. The United States and countries around the world need to join together and provide the leadership and resources needed to put global nuclear security on a sustained path of continuous improvement, in the never-ending search for excellence in performance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual news conference in Moscow

AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

How the Next Nuclear Arms Race Will Be Different from the Last One

| 2019

All the world's nuclear-armed states (except for North Korea) have begun modernizing and upgrading their arsenals, leading many observers to predict that the world is entering a new nuclear arms race. While that outcome is not yet inevitable, it is likely, and if it happens, the new nuclear arms race will be different and more dangerous than the one we remember. More nuclear-armed countries in total, and three competing great powers rather than two, will make the competition more complex. Meanwhile, new non-nuclear weapon technologies — such as ballistic missile defense, anti-satellite weapons, and precision-strike missile technology — will make nuclear deterrence relationships that were once somewhat stable less so.

The Chinese flag displayed at the Russian booth of import fair.

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

China and Russia: A Strategic Alliance in the Making

| Dec. 14, 2018

THE YEAR before he died in 2017, one of America’s leading twentieth-century strategic thinkers, Zbigniew Brzezinski, sounded an alarm. In analyzing threats to American security, “the most dangerous scenario,” he warned, would be “a grand coalition of China and Russia…united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.” This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media after the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 1, 2018.

Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Analysis & Opinions - Russia Matters

Putin’s Remarks on Use of Nuclear Weapons Are Confusing, But Unlikely to Constitute a Shift in Nuclear Posture

| Nov. 28, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eschatological talk of nuclear Armageddon at this year’s Valdai forum has stirred up heated debates on how well his description of Russia’s potential use of nuclear weapons matches the country’s official military doctrine. However, a close look at Putin’s Oct. 18 remarks and Russia’s 2014 military doctrine reveals that, while Putin deviated from the language in the doctrine, he did not lie on the first use issue. Nor did he seem to be hinting at a shift in Russia’s nuclear posture. More likely, he was signaling to Washington that the existing nuclear arms control treaties need to remain in place for the sake of ensuring strategic stability in the U.S.-Russian nuclear dyad and avoiding an accidental war between the two countries.

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?

A man holds a sign that reads "Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty"prior to a press conference during the Helsinki Summit with Trump and Putin.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

A Better Way to Confront Russia's Nuclear Menace

| Oct. 28, 2018

Ongoing Russian violations of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty need to be effectively addressed because they defy a longstanding bilateral agreement and directly threaten our NATO allies. However, the Trump administration’s move to pull out of the treaty is misguided; instead, we should launch a major initiative to strengthen strategic stability between the United States and Russia, writes Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow following President Trump's announcement of U.S. plans to withdraw from the INF Treaty. October 23, 2018.

en.kremlin.ru

Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

Trump’s INF Announcement: Another Gift to Putin?

| Oct. 25, 2018

Pulling out of the INF Treaty would be a strategic blunder. It would free Russia to deploy currently prohibited missiles without constraint and further undermine U.S. credibility with our allies. The United States would shoulder the blame for the collapse of one of the two remaining U.S.-Russian agreements controlling nuclear weapons. U.S. withdrawal would remove valuable verification mechanisms and introduce additional U.S. and Russian uncertainty regarding the other’s nuclear forces and intentions.