63 Events

The newly developed DF-26 medium-range ballistic missile as seen after the military parade held in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, 3 September 2015.

Wikimedia CC/IceUnshattered

Seminar - Open to the Public

Sino-U.S. Inadvertent Nuclear Escalation

Thu., Mar. 14, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: WU Riqiang, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

It is generally believed that in peacetime current Sino-U.S. nuclear relations are stable and deliberate nuclear exchanges between these two countries are unimaginable. However, conventional conflict might escalate to nuclear level, even if both sides wish to avoid it at the beginning of the war. This seminar will provide a causal mechanism of Sino-U.S. inadvertent escalation. Three driving factors are identified: the vulnerability of Chinese nuclear forces, the not-by-design co-mingling of China's conventional and nuclear weapons, and the fog of war. The security dilemma will worsen the situation and increase the escalatory risk. The mechanism is then tested via two hypothetical scenarios: a missile campaign and submarine warfare. In order to reduce the risk of inadvertent escalation, the United States should build confidence with China by declaring mutual vulnerability vis-à-vis China and constraining its strategic capabilities. China could also demarcate its nuclear and conventional missiles and clarify its no-first-use policy that conventional attacks on nuclear weapons would be regarded as nuclear attacks.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Satellite image of the half-built light water reactor site in North Korea.

Google Earth Image@2018 DigitalGlobe

Seminar - Open to the Public

Normalization by Other Means — The Failed Techno-diplomacy of Light Water Reactor Export in the North Korean Nuclear Crisis

Thu., Feb. 14, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Christopher Lawrence, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

The history of U.S. engagement with North Korea offers important lessons that could help reframe the diplomatic impasse today. In the 1994 Agreed Framework (AF), the regime agreed to dismantle its plutonium-production complex in exchange for western light water reactors (LWR) and the promise of political normalization with the United States. As construction of the LWRs fell behind, however, North Korea embarked on a secret uranium enrichment program. Today, scholars and policymakers look back at the LWRs of the AF as a "carrot" — "we offered the carrot, and they cheated anyway." But when scholars and policymakers consider the unique technical attributes of LWRs and how their construction was planned to be situated within a diplomatic track to normalization, they appear to function more as a way to signal commitment than as a carrot to bribe the regime. In this light, chronic construction delays and the offset of LWR costs to U.S. allies can be interpreted as signals about America's lack of commitment to normalization with North Korea. This conceptual shift — from carrots and sticks to signaling and credibility — offers important insights into past diplomatic failures and could help reconcile the competing visions of engagement with North Korea today.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Military vehicles carry DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missiles during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Sept. 3, 2015.

Voice of America/Wikimedia Commons

Seminar - Open to the Public

Merits of Uncertainty: The Evolution and Future of China’s Nuclear Retaliatory Capability

Wed., Sep. 12, 2018 | 10:00am - 11:30am

Littauer Building - Fainsod Room, 324

Speaker: Wu Riqiang, Research Fellow with the International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom
 
A simplified nuclear exchange model will be developed to evaluate China’s past and current nuclear retaliatory capability against the Soviet Union and the United States. The modeling suggests that according to Western standards, China’s nuclear retaliation has been and remains far from “assured.” This result reflects China’s special nuclear philosophy, which emphasizes the role of nuclear taboo and prioritizes political control over survivability. However, in the face of U.S. advances in the areas of counterforce and missile defense, China probably has to continue to improve its nuclear forces qualitatively and, if necessary, quantitatively, in order to maintain its deterrent level.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, prepares to shake hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in over the military demarcation line at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone on April 27, 2018.

Korea Summit Press Pool/AP

Seminar - Open to the Public

Korea in Great Transition? Diplomacy for Denuclearization and Peace-building

Thu., June 21, 2018 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Amid a flurry of summits, Professor Yoon Young-kwan, former South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will provide a South Korean perspective of where we’re headed with denuclearization and peace-building on the Korean Peninsula.

Seminar - Open to the Public

Reconciling Strategic Stability Disconnects with China

Thu., Mar. 30, 2017 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

Littauer Building - Belfer Center Library, Room 369

Speaker: Barry Little, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

The speaker will discuss U.S. and Chinese perspectives on strategic stability, sticking points in the nuclear relationship, and recommendations on how to bolster stability.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Seminar - Open to the Public

Asia-Pacific Nuclear Governance: Feeble, Fragmented but Fixable?

Wed., Mar. 29, 2017 | 10:00am - 11:30am

Littauer Building - Fainsod Room, 324

Nuclear governance at the regional level in Asia-Pacific is alarmingly fragmented and feeble. An array of disparate, small bodies with varying memberships seek to address safety, security, nonproliferation, and disarmament, but without adding much to the global arrangements. Dr. Findlay will examine the future likely trajectory of nuclear energy in the region, the regional drivers of and constraints on strengthened regional governance, and the likelihood of a comprehensive, integrated nuclear governance regime emerging.

Oct. 25, 2012 - A SM-2 Block IIIA missile is launched from the USS Fitzgerald during the FTI-01 flight test.

Creative Commons

Seminar - Open to the Public

In the Shadow of the Umbrella: U.S. Extended Deterrence and Nuclear Proliferation in East Asia, 1961–1979

Thu., Mar. 16, 2017 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

Littauer Building - Belfer Center Library, Room 369

The United States has been remarkably successful at using the security guarantee as a non-proliferation tool, but during the Cold War, three countries — Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan — were in danger of slipping out from under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Why did these states feel the need to start down the nuclear path, despite being under the protective wing of its nuclear-armed superpower ally? Relying on declassified national security archival documents, this seminar sheds light on the interplay between alliance dynamics and nuclear weapons decision making.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.