153 Items

A North Korean military parade (Stefan Krasowski via Flickr).

Stefan Krasowski via Flickr

Journal Article - Defense and Security Analysis

An Evolving State of Play? Exploring Competitive Advantages of State Assets in Proliferation Networks

| Jan. 17, 2019

Illicit procurement networks often target industry in developed economies to acquire materials and components of use in WMD and military programs. These procurement networks are ultimately directed by elements of the proliferating state and utilize state resources to undertake their activities: diplomats and missions, state intelligence networks, and state-connected logistical assets. These state assets have also been utilized to facilitate the export of WMD and military technologies in breach of sanctions. While used in most historic proliferation cases, their role has seen limited consideration in the scholarly literature. This article seeks to systematically contextualize state resources in proliferation networks, arguing that their use lies between state criminality and routine activity in support of national security. Considering the competitive advantages of these assets compared to similar resources available in the private sector, the article argues that nonproliferation efforts have caused states to change how they use these resources through an ongoing process of competitive adaptation.

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.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin provide an update on the Trump administration's Iran policy at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, D.C., on November 5, 2018 (State Department via Flickr).

State Department via Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Not very SWIFT

| Nov. 06, 2018

Not only would sanctioning SWIFT be a major escalation in U.S. sanctions policy, but an entirely reckless decision. Realistically, enforcing sanctions against SWIFT would have significant consequences for both the U.S. and global financial system—upending decades of international norms.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Security Science, July 2015

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

When Did (and Didn’t) States Proliferate?

| June 2017

In this Project on Managing the Atom Discussion Paper, Philipp C. Bleek chronicles nuclear weapons proliferation choices throughout the nuclear age. Since the late 1930s and early 1940s, some thirty-one countries are known to have at least explored the possibility of establishing a nuclear weapons program. Seventeen of those countries launched weapons programs, and ten acquired deliverable nuclear weapons.

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Presentation - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

State of Play and Future of the Multilateral Non-proliferation Regimes and Initiatives

| May 29, 2017

The last couple of years have seen mixed progress in non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament. On the positive side, we can applaud the Ministerial-level Nuclear Security conference in December 2016 and actions emanating from that.

Reactor Building of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

AP Photo/Mehr News Agency/Majid Asgaripour

Journal Article - Afkar/Ideas

Nuclear Energy in the Middle East? Regional Security Cooperation Needed

| Spring 2017

Nuclear power in the Middle East has appeared poised for dramatic growth for more than a decade.  Iran’s nuclear power plant at Bushehr, the first of its kind in the Middle East, began producing electricity in 2011. Tehran has plans or proposals for additional 11 reactors, according to the World Nuclear Association. Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build 16 nuclear power reactors by 2040. The UAE has four nuclear power reactors under construction, the first of which is expected to come online later this year.  Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan, are each pursuing the development nuclear energy at their own pace.  The appearance of activity is impressive. 

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

5 Burning Nuclear Problems on Trump’s Desk

| Jan. 25, 2017

Nuclear weapons remain the most powerful weapons on the planet and how President Donald Trump’s team manages nuclear issues is critical to our security. These are hard challenges; none were perfectly addressed under President Obama’s leadership. But we made them a priority from day one. Whether or not the new team puts them at the top of the to-do list, here are five issues that will demand their attention before too long.

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

Wikimedia Commons

Policy Brief - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Iran Stockpiling Uranium Far Above Current Needs

| January 10, 2017

In a televised speech on January 1, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran had imported 200 metric tons of yellowcake uranium and would import another 120 tons at an unspecified future date. The imports are permitted by the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but nonetheless significantly exceed Iran’s needs for natural (that is, unenriched) uranium over the next 15 years. Iran’s import of such high levels of uranium suggests it may be stockpiling uranium to reach nuclear breakout before the deal’s initial limitations expire in 2031.

The JCPOA permits Iran to buy natural uranium to “replenish” its stocks as it sells enriched uranium on the international market. To date, Iran has had difficulties locating a buyer for its enriched uranium stocks – unsurprising, given the current excess of commercially available enriched uranium. This, however, has not stopped Iran from buying and stockpiling more yellowcake.

Iranian Moves Offer Opportunity to Improve JCPOA

Iran Talks

Analysis & Opinions - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Iranian Moves Offer Opportunity to Improve JCPOA

| December 23, 2016

Congress extended the Iran Sanctions Act earlier this month, prompting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to order retaliatory steps.  Tehran protested to the EU,  claiming the extension is a violation of last summer’s nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA – and requesting a meeting of the joint committee  established to settle disputes over the deal’s implementation. Based on Rouhani’s same directive, Iran has also ordered its scientists to develop a plan to design and manufacture a nuclear-propulsion system and fuel for marine transportation.

How Trump Can Strengthen US Leverage Against Iran

Gage Skidmore

Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

How Trump Can Strengthen US Leverage Against Iran

| November 30, 2016

Before trashing the Iran deal — the agreement inked last fall, which limits Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief — the incoming Trump administration should consider how a policy of soft economic engagement with Tehran could provide Washington with strategic leverage and increased bargaining power in a post-Iran deal world.

Throughout his campaign, now President-elect Trump attacked the Iran deal, claiming that “it will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever negotiated.” The future of the deal now seems to be far less certain, as Trump fills key positions with outspoken critics of the agreement. Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Trump’s recent pick for CIA director, is well-known for his hardline stance on the deal, recently noting that it should be “rolled back.”