540 Items

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence, holds up a signed executive order to increase sanctions on Iran on June 24.

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

Deescalation Wanted: How Trump Can Steer Clear of a War

| June 26, 2019

The United States and Iran have engaged in a constant raising of the stakes as a means of securing leverage ahead of possible nuclear negotiations. This is a classic bargaining pattern but in the current context, such an approach is particularly risky due to the potential for misperceptions. The complexities of domestic and regional dynamics are also a factor. In such a situation, absent clear understanding of the other’s motivations and tactics, raising the stakes—rather than securing leverage for effective negotiations—could steer the United States and Iran towards a path toward war.

A DF-15B short-range ballistic missile as seen after the military parade held in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in 2015 (Wikimedia/IceUnshattered).

Wikimedia/IceUnshattered

Analysis & Opinions - East Asia Forum

China's Calculus After the INF Treaty

| May 08, 2019

It seems that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is coming to an end. The Treaty prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or testing land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500–5500 kilometres, including both conventional and nuclear-armed missiles. On 1 February 2019, US President Trump said that he would suspend obligations under the INF Treaty and initiate the withdrawal procedure. After withdrawing, the United States might deploy conventional and nuclear missiles to the West Pacific against China. How would the potential deployment of each missile type impact China’s security?

Senator Lugar at a 2012 ceremony where he received the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest award the Department of Defense can give a civilian, for his work to help denuclearize countries after the fall of the Soviet Union (DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo).

DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Senator Richard G. Lugar: An Appreciation

| Apr. 30, 2019

Sen. Richard Lugar—with his legislative partner, Sen. Sam Nunn—imagined the unimaginable. He championed a program to provide assistance to military forces in the former Soviet republics holding tens of thousands of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons aimed at the United States and our allies, shortly after America’s existential enemy, the Soviet Union, expired. All told, the Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction program provided more than $14 billion to, among other things, deactivate 13,300 nuclear warheads, eliminate 1,473 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and destroy almost 40,000 metric tons of chemical agents. The US departments of Defense and Energy also worked with Russia to improve security at 148 sites still holding nuclear weapons or weapons-grade material from Murmansk to Kamchatka.

Delegates at the United Nations give a standing ovation after a vote to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on July 7, 2017 (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press).

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Journal Article - Arms Control Today

The Future of the Nuclear Order

| April 2019

Foreign policy pundits have bemoaned the unraveling of the post-World War II international order in recent years, describing threats to the multilateralism and liberalism enshrined in postwar institutions. An often overlooked component of that structure is the global nuclear order, which, like other parts of the postwar system, was created for magnanimous and selfish aims: reducing the dangers of nuclear weapons for all and serving the interests of the world’s most powerful states.

Book Chapter - Routledge

Dim Hope for Disarmament and Approaching Risk of Build-Up

| March 2019

Further nuclear reduction under the current regimes seems unlikely. The US argues that Russia has violated the INF Treaty by developing and deploying a land-based cruise missile. Russia also makes the accusation that the Aegis Ashore missile defense system in Europe, capable of launching cruise missiles, has violated the INF. Furthermore, President Trump has repeatedly expressed his unwillingness to extend the New START Treaty for five more years after it expires in February 2021. The US-Russia bilateral disarmament process seems to have terminated. There have been some signs of nuclear build-up. The new US Nuclear Posture Review emphasizes the role of nuclear weapons while de-emphasizing strategic stability, reduces the threshold for nuclear use and calls for developing new low-yield SLBM and sea-launched cruise missiles. America’s nuclear policy might stimulate Russia and China to build new nuclear capabilities. North Korea’s advances in nuclear and long-range missile programs justify Washington’s investment in homeland missile defense, which in turn undermines China and Russia’s nuclear retaliatory capability and might result in a defense-offense arms race.

A missile is launched from a U.S. Navy submarine in the Atlantic Ocean in 1989 (Phil Sandlin/Associated Press).

Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

News - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Say WHAT? — A Case of Low-Yield Nuclear Thinking

    Author:
  • Thomas Gaulkin
| Feb. 14, 2019

Can a small nuclear weapon really make the world safer? In this installment of “Say WHAT?”—the Bulletin video series that casts a clear eye on fuzzy policy—we ask nuclear weapons expert Sébastien Philippe what he thinks about the latest nuclear craze.

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.

A U.S. Trident II missile launches (Wikimedia Commons).

Wikimedia Commons

Analysis & Opinions - War on the Rocks

Can This New Approach to Nuclear Disarmament Work?

| Jan. 23, 2019

An estimated 14,485 nuclear weapons exist on earth today — most are far more powerful than those that twisted railway ties, leveled buildings, and crushed, poisoned, and burned human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The majority of these weapons belong to the United States and Russia. For some in the U.S. government, including Chris Ford, assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, this number represents significant disarmament progress since Cold War highs of over 70,000 nuclear weapons. They argue the current security environment means that further reductions are not possible at this time. In contrast, for many disarmament advocates and officials from non-nuclear weapons states, this number is still far too high. They are now clamoring to ban all nuclear weapons. Because of this divide, according to Ford, we currently face a “disarmament crisis.”

The K-pop group BTS receiving an award in Seoul in January 2017 (AJEONG_JM, Wikimedia/Creative Commons).

AJEONG_JM, Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

BTS, the "Atomic Bomb Shirt," and South Korean Attitudes Toward Nuclear Weapons

| Nov. 19, 2018

Over the past few weeks, BTS members have found themselves entangled in a bizarre scandal over an “atomic bomb shirt” that led to the cancellation of their appearance on a popular TV Asahi music show in Japan, which has been the main foreign source of revenues for K-pop groups since the 1990s. The 23-year-old singer, Jimin, was caught on the street wearing a white t-shirt bearing the slogan “Patriotism Our History Liberation Korea” repeated in numerous lines and overlapped by a black-and-white picture of the mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb that the United States detonated over Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945.

The atomic cloud over Hiroshima, taken from the Enola Gay on August 6, 1945 (U.S. government/Wikimedia).

U.S. government/Wikimedia

Journal Article - The Journal of Strategic Studies

How Durable is the Nuclear Weapons Taboo?

| Nov. 09, 2018

The nuclear weapons taboo is considered one of the strongest norms in international politics. A prohibition against using nuclear weapons has seemingly shaped state behavior for nearly seven decades and, according to some observers, made nuclear use ‘unthinkable’ today or in the future. Although scholars have shown that nuclear aversion has affected decision-making behavior, important questions about the nuclear taboo remain unanswered. This article seeks to answer a basic question: How durable is the taboo? We develop different predictions about norm durability depending on whether the taboo is based primarily on moral logic or strategic logic. We use the comparable case of the norm against strategic bombing in the 20th century to evaluate these hypotheses. The logic and evidence presented in this paper suggest that the norm of nuclear non-use is much more fragile than most analysts understand.