19 Items

Ukrainian troops examine the destruction caused by Russian shelling in Toretsk, Donetsk Oblast.

Wikimedia Commons, National Police of Ukraine

Report - American Academy of Arts & Sciences

The Altered Nuclear Order in the Wake of the Russia-Ukraine War

In this American Academy of Arts and Sciences study, Rebecca Davis Gibbons, Stephen Herzog, Wilfred Wan, and Doreen Horschig unpack the challenges to the global nuclear order posed by the Russian war against Ukraine. On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded nonnuclear-armed Ukraine and leveraged threats with its nuclear arsenal as a “shield” to deter third-party intervention. The well-publicized horrors on the ground in Ukraine are, unfortunately, not the only consequences of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor. The war is having unmistakable effects on how governments, scholars, and the public think about nuclear arms. Not only has Moscow reintroduced the world to the often-unsavory realities of nuclear deterrence, but its suspension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and deratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) have been setbacks for arms control and disarmament. Meanwhile, vulnerable states around the globe may be further incentivized to develop nuclear weapons or seek protection from nuclear-armed patrons to avoid being invaded like Ukraine. Given these changing geopolitical circumstances, how might the Russian war on Ukraine affect the global nuclear order? The authors in this publication conclude that the United States and the broader international community must now more seriously engage with alternatives to traditional arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament endeavors. Specifically, the authors discuss the increasing prominence of approaches such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)—popularly known as the Nuclear Ban—and risk reduction measures. They assess whether these initiatives can have an impact in reducing nuclear dangers. Additionally, they examine temptations for states to pursue more forceful counterproliferation measures and describe the risks of doing so.

Senior officials from around the world, including IAEA DG Rafael Mariano Grossi, together at an International Gender Champions meeting in Vienna in March 2020.

Dean Calma/IAEA

Report - Institute for Replication

Gender Analysis and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: A Response to Daarstad, Park, and Balogh

| Dec. 01, 2023

Herzog, Baron, and Gibbons (HBG) thank Haley Daarstad, RyuGyung Park, and Timea Balogh for replicating their 2022 short article in The Journal of Politics. In that article, HBG tested the malleability of U.S. public support for nuclear disarmament, specifically in the context of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Their survey experiment reveals that––despite majority public support for eliminating nuclear weapons––Americans’ backing of the TPNW can be significantly attenuated by exposure to elite and group cues opposing the treaty. The resultant article has received considerable attention from policymakers and anti-nuclear activists alike. Daarstad, Park, and Balogh (DPB) offer three main substantive points of comment on HGB's article. First, DPB indicate that the results successfully replicate and note that they “do not find any coding errors that undermine the authors’ analysis or conclusions.” Second, DPB show that the findings also replicate when partisan leaners are coded as political Independents. Finally, and most interestingly, DPB conduct gender-based subgroup analysis and show that there are heterogenous treatment effects among male and female respondents in our sample. HBG address each of these points in turn.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy, seen here meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1961

Stanley Tretick via National Archives and Records Administration

Journal Article - Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament

Review of The Hegemon’s Tool Kit: US Leadership and the Politics of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime.

| June 13, 2023

Rebecca Davis Gibbons has published several notable articles examining the role of great powers in the global nuclear order over the past few years (e.g. Gibbons 2019, 2020). Her work has included scholarly research on supply-side nuclear restrictions, promotion of nonproliferation agreements and institutions, and interaction with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). In her first book, Gibbons puts all of these pieces of the puzzle together. The Hegemon’s Tool Kit offers a broad and elegant theory of international nuclear politics that should be of great interest to readers of this journal.

On January 22, 2021, Foreign Minister of Austria Alexander Schallenberg gave a press conference on the entry into force of the TPNW at the Foreign Ministry in Vienna.

Austrian Foreign Ministry via Wikimedia Commons

Magazine Article - Arms Control Today

The First TPNW Meeting and the Future of the Nuclear Ban Treaty

| September 2022

As diplomats, activists, and researchers converged on Vienna in June for the first meeting of states-parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), recent tragic world events highlighted how critical it was to convene this multilateral forum on nuclear disarmament.

Since February, Russia’s war against Ukraine has epitomized the grave dangers of a world where nine states possess approximately 12,700 nuclear weapons.1 That Russia could invade a sovereign state and indiscriminately target its civilian population, while using nuclear threats to deter NATO from intervening, has stunned the world. It offers a stark reminder that possessing nuclear arms can enable abhorrent violations of international law

Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty gather in Geneva for NPT Prepcom 2018.

JWB/Wikimedia Commons

Journal Article - Contemporary Security Policy

Durable Institution Under Fire? The NPT Confronts Emerging Multipolarity

The regime built around the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has helped curtail the spread of nuclear arms for fifty years. In hindsight, it is remarkable only nine states possess the world’s most powerful weapon. The NPT achieved much success during Cold War bipolarity and U.S. unipolarity in its aftermath. But today, China’s rise and Russia’s resurgence have ushered in a new era of emerging multipolarity. Can the treaty withstand the potential challenges of this dynamic environment? There is a real risk that multipolarity may shake the scaffolding of the nonproliferation regime, presenting a significant test to the NPT’s durability. This article identifies four essential elements of the nonproliferation regime: widespread membership, adaptability, enforcement, and fairness. History suggests bipolarity and unipolarity in the international system largely sustained and promoted these NPT features. When international regimes lack such elements, it sharply curtails their long-term efficacy.

actical nuclear air-to-air rocket

Wkimedia CC/Boevaya mashina

Journal Article - Journal of Politics

Antinormative Messaging, Group Cues, and the Nuclear Ban Treaty

| January 2022

What types of foreign policy cues are most likely to turn public opinion against a popular emerging norm? Since 2017, the U.S. government has sought to discredit the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and its nuclear nonpossession norm among the largely prodisarmament American public. The authors fielded a national U.S. survey experiment (N=1,219) to evaluate the effects of these elite cues as well as social group cues on public opinion. Their study thus offers one of the first experimental assessments of public attitudes toward nuclear disarmament.

Then-candidate Joe Biden in 2019.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Analysis & Opinions - European Leadership Network

Nuclear Diplomacy in the Biden Administration

| Jan. 06, 2021

The Biden administration not only inherits a country where COVID-19 is surging and jobs are hemorrhaging, but he also takes over a perilous global landscape when it comes to nuclear arms control and disarmament. The Trump years saw the dissolution of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (i.e. the Iran nuclear deal) and the Open Skies Treaty. President Trump has not extended New START, the last remaining arms control treaty, leaving 16 days for the new administration to work out an extension before the treaty expires.

Genbaku at Night

Wikimedia Commons

Journal Article - Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament

Japanese Public Opinion, Political Persuasion, and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

| 2020

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) poses a challenge to decades of Japanese nuclear policy. While Japan has relied on the US nuclear umbrella since the aftermath of World War II, numerous pro-disarmament groups — including the Hibakusha — are calling for Tokyo to join the Treaty. The authors contribute to these discussions with commentary on a new national survey they conducted in Japan (N = 1,333). Their results indicate that baseline support for the Prime Minister signing and the Diet ratifying the TPNW stands at approximately 75% of the Japanese public.

A demonstration in Germany in support of the TPNW in 2019.

ICAN Germany via Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Nuclear Ban Treaty and Competing Nuclear Norms

| Oct. 30, 2020

Universal norms have power—US leaders know this. For proponents of nuclear deterrence like the US government, the norms of the NPT are strategically valuable because they allow the United States and four other states to maintain their nuclear weapons while keeping the rest of the world from possessing their own. In contrast, the norm promoted by the ban treaty is meant to apply to all states and so US leaders fear its long-term effects.

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.