115 Items

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.

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.

Protesters demand the deployment of nuclear weapons in South Korea, near the presidential Blue House in Seoul

AP

Journal Article - Washington Quarterly

South Korea's Nuclear Hedging?

| Spring 2018

"The credibility of the United States' nuclear umbrella has been questioned time and again by its allies in Europe and Asia since the dawn of the nuclear era. Skepticism toward U.S. extended deterrence to the Republic of Korea (ROK) is particularly high amid their strained relationship in light of political leadership changes in Washington and Seoul as well as North Korea's rapidly advancing nuclear capabilities. A growing sense of abandonment among South Koreans raises the concern that Seoul may go nuclear. However, pursuing nuclear weapons is not likely given the enormous security and economic costs."

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Journal Article - Nonproliferation Review

China’s Nuclear Modernization: Assuring a Second-Strike Capability

| Feb. 11, 2018

Some experts are increasingly concerned that China’s modernization will lead to a Chinese nuclear “breakout”—a pursuit of a nuclear-warfighting capability or a “sprint to parity” with the United States. David Logan (“Hard Constraints on a Chinese Nuclear Breakout,” Vol. 24, Nos. 1–2, 2017, pp. 13–30) rightly suggests that such a nuclear breakout would be constrained not only by China’s “soft” nuclear policy but also by “hard” technical constraints. I would emphasize that it is the former that has been the first principle guiding China’s nuclear-force development. That some of the “hard” technical constrains have resulted from this “soft” guidance demonstrates China’s commitment to a small deterrent force. It is difficult to imagine that the future development of China’s nuclear force would eventually overthrow these first principles. In fact, there is no evidence that China will change its long-standing nuclear policy.

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

New Ways to Detect Nuclear Misbehavior

| Jan. 08, 2018

If we had the technology to detect nuclear materials remotely it could help deter smuggling and make it easier to monitor international nuclear agreements. Several recent breakthroughs, if followed up with continued research and funding, could deliver on this promise. They include technological advances in x-ray and neutron radiography; a method that measures how plasma breaks down when exposed to a radioactive source; and developments in antineutrino detection. While all require more development and testing, they are important steps as the global need for ways to detect nuclear materials grows.

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Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The future of US–Russian nuclear deterrence and arms control

| June 19, 2017

During the latter part of the Cold War, many strategists thought of nuclear deterrence and arms control as two of the most essential stabilizing elements of the same strategy in managing an adversarial relationship. The renewed crisis between the West (the United States and NATO member states) and Russia demonstrates how critical these elements are to the strategic nuclear relationship. As a result of recent setbacks between Washington and Moscow in the past few years, arms control has taken a back seat, and the risk of conflict due to miscalculation is the highest it has been since the 1980s.

MIssile

Kelly Michals

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The political and military vulnerability of America’s land-based nuclear missiles

| Apr. 18, 2017

The current plan for US nuclear modernization would replace the nation’s aging Minuteman III missiles with next-generation missiles known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, at a cost of $100 billion or more. As part of the agreement that resulted in the Senate’s approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty nuclear agreement with the Russian Federation, the Obama administration agreed to a nuclear modernization plan that includes retaining and upgrading the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). 

The Era Of U.S.-Russian Nuclear Cooperation

Siegfried Hecker

Magazine Article - Arms Control Today

The Era Of U.S.-Russian Nuclear Cooperation

| November 2016

Nickolas Roth reflects upon Doomed to Cooperate by Siegfried S. Hecker, which tells the story of how, after the Cold War ended, U.S. and Russian scientists worked together to strengthen Russian nuclear safety and security, reduce proliferation risks, and advance nuclear science. He identifies that the book provides important lessons for policymakers in each country who are, just as they were more than two decades ago, scrambling to cope with the rapidly changing relationship between the world’s two largest nuclear superpowers.

Doomed to Cooperate: How American And Russian Scientists Joined Forces To Avert Some Of The Greatest Post–Cold War Nuclear Dangers

Siegfried Hecker

Magazine Article - Physics Today

Doomed to Cooperate: How American And Russian Scientists Joined Forces To Avert Some Of The Greatest Post–Cold War Nuclear Dangers

| November 2016

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created unprecedented dangers. The crumbling empire had thousands of nuclear weapons, enough material to make tens of thousands more, and tens of thousands of experts with sensitive nuclear expertise. To overstate only slightly, Doomed to Cooperate: How American and Russian Scientists Joined Forces to Avert Some of the Greatest Post–Cold War Nuclear Dangers is a true story of scientists and engineers successfully working together to save the world.