125 Events

Seminar - Open to the Public

India and Nuclear Asia: Forces, Doctrine and Dangers

Thu., Apr. 11, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Frank O'Donnell, Postdoctoral Fellow, U.S. Naval War College

The speaker will detail the arguments of his recent book, India and Nuclear Asia: Forces, Doctrine and Dangers. The book explores the post-1998 evolution of Indian nuclear thought, its arsenal, the triangular rivalry with Pakistan and China, and New Delhi's nonproliferation policy approaches. The speaker argues that emerging trends in all three states are elevating risks of regional inadvertent and accidental escalation. These include the forthcoming launch of naval nuclear forces within an environment of contested maritime boundaries; the growing employment of dual-use delivery vehicles; and the emerging preferences of all three states to employ missiles early in a conflict. These dangers are amplified by the near-absence of substantive nuclear dialogue between these states, and the growing ambiguity of regional strategic intentions. To mitigate these trends, the speaker recommends that the three states initiate a trilateral strategic dialogue, and that India institute a strategic defense review to resolve the growing ambiguities around its conventional and nuclear deterrence and improve public confidence in them.

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

Co-Sponsored by Project on Managing the Atom

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.

President Lyndon Johnson looking on as Secretary of State Dean Rusk prepares to sign the NPT, 1 July 1968.

Courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library

Seminar - Open to the Public

The Hegemon's Toolkit: U.S. Hegemony and the Politics of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime

Thu., Oct. 11, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Rebecca Davis Gibbons, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program

The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is widely credited with contributing to international security through its promotion of nuclear restraint. Whereas almost all states in the international system are members of the NPT, many of these states have not signed on to additional treaties and agreements designed to strengthen the regime. Having already committed to foreswear the possession of nuclear weapons, why would some NPT members avoid taking steps to further the treaty's proclaimed goals? States' affinity to U.S. global leadership explains such variation.

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.

India test-fired its surface-to-surface nuclear capable Agni-I (A) ballistic missile off Abdul Kalam Island in its eastern state of Odisha on 6 February 2018.

Wikimedia CC/Tasnim News Agency

Seminar - Open to the Public

India's Search for Deterrence: Nuclear Subcultures and Policy Choices

Thu., May 17, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Frank O'Donnell, Stanton Nuclear Security Junior Faculty Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

This seminar will first discuss how the requirements of Indian deterrence, as perceived by New Delhi's strategic elite, have evolved since 1998. It will next detail the characteristics of two "minimalist-political" and "maximalist-operational" schools of thought within Indian nongovernmental strategic elite discourse, and how their comparative influence has changed over time. The seminar will reconstruct the policy options developed by this strategic elite as it faced each nuclear policy juncture and demonstrate how a numerically dominant option in each discourse provides a reliable proxy indicator for the subsequent official strategic decision. It will conclude with an exploration of how this approach can inform scholarly understanding of current and potential future Indian nuclear policies.

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

President Donald Trump shows a signed Presidential Memorandum after delivering a statement on the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Seminar - Open to the Public

Consequences of the U.S. Withdrawal from the JCPOA

Wed., May 16, 2018 | 10:00am

Belfer Building - Starr Auditorium, Floor 2.5

With President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Iranian nuclear agreement (JCPOA), the future of the deal is under serious question. Please join the Iran Project and The Project on Managing the Atom (MTA) for an expert-level roundtable analyzing the ramifications of this decision and the how leading international and regional players will react to these latest developments.

A member of the 341st Security Forces Group guards a missile launch facility during an LF recapture simulation as part of the Grizzly Rampart training exercise March 18 near Malmstrom Air Force Base. The exercise was implemented to evaluate the readiness of the 341st Missile Wing and ensure first-responder Airmen know and follow the standards set in place for real-world events.

USAF/Collin Schmidt

Seminar - Open to the Public

Training Nuclear Security Leaders: A Tiered Approach

Thu., Apr. 26, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Brian Filler, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

The leaders responsible for securing U.S. nuclear weapons, materials and infrastructure must receive the best training possible. This seminar will discuss how the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Energy (DOE) currently train their tactical and senior nuclear security leaders and where that training should be improved and augmented. The seminar will then present the recommendation that is being forwarded to the departments, calling for the establishment of Tiered DOD-DOE Nuclear Security Leaders Training. The proposed training is designed to provide breadth and depth of knowledge for all of the departments' tactical and senior nuclear security leaders. Finally, the presentation will discuss how the proposed training could improve the security of nuclear assets around the world.

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

Co-sponsored by Project on Managing the Atom

Gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment recovered from the BBC China in Italy, en route to Libya, in 2003.

DOE

Seminar - Open to the Public

Stop or I'll Shoot, Comply and I Won't: The Paradox of Coercion

Thu., Apr. 12, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Reid Pauly, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

In making demands, coercers must communicate the credibility of their threats to punish. They must also, however, communicate the credibility of corresponding assurances not to punish if the target complies. This presentation will explain the paradox at the heart of coercion and explore how states overcome it by signaling the contingency of their actions.

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

Glass mural found in an office of the former East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi).

Alexander K. Bollfrass

Seminar - Open to the Public

Blinded by Belief: U.S., UK, and East German Nuclear Espionage in West Germany

Thu., Apr. 5, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Alexander K. Bollfrass, Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

Fears of a West German bomb sharpened Cold War tensions, making the country's nuclear program an intelligence priority for all concerned states. Based on original archival and newly declassified files, this presentation evaluates the accuracy of U.S., UK, and East German intelligence assessments of the Federal Republic's proliferation risk. Despite spectacular collection successes, the Stasi's analysts were required to view the world through thick ideological lenses. The result was a distorted picture of West German ambition to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

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