Articles

244 Items

Iran Syria missiles

Associated Press

Journal Article - International Affairs

Iran's Syria Strategy: The Evolution of Deterrence

| Feb. 04, 2019

Iran has been a critical player in the Syrian war since 2011, crafting a complex foreign policy and military strategy to preserve its Syrian ally. What have been the drivers of Iranian decision-making in this conflict? And how has Iranian strategy evolved over the course of the war? This article argues that the logic of deterrence has been fundamental not just for shaping the contours of Iran–Syria relations since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, but also for determining the overall trajectory of Iranian strategy in the Syrian war. The authors outline Iran's decision-making calculus and divide the country's strategy on Syria after the Arab Spring into four primary phases: 1) a ‘Basij’ strategy to establish local militias in Syria; 2) a regionalization strategy to incorporate transnational fighters and militias in the war effort; 3) an internationalization strategy to incorporate Russia and balance the United States; and 4) a post-ISIS deterrence strategy to balance against the United States, Turkey and Israel. Iran's Syria strategy progressively escalated in response to the possible defeat of its ally and the deterioration of its forward deterrence capacities against the United States and Israel. Today, the potential for direct inter-state conflict is rising as proxy warfare declines and Iran attempts to maintain the credibility of its forward deterrence.

A satellite image of Lanzhou Uranium Enrichment Plant in January 2015 (DigitalGlobe).

DigitalGlobe

Journal Article - Nonproliferation Review

The History of Fissile-Material Production in China

| Jan. 23, 2019

This article reconstructs the history of China’s production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons based on newly available public sources. It begins with discussion of China’s first set of fissile-material production facilities, which China started building in 1958. It then details the first and second “third-line” construction campaigns, initiated in 1964 and the late 1960s, respectively. Finally, the article considers the policy implications of the history of China’s fissile-material production, particularly its influence on China’s attitude toward negotiating a fissile-material cutoff treaty.

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.

Great Decisions Cover

Foreign Policy Association

Journal Article - Foreign Policy Association

The State of the State Department and American Diplomacy

| Jan. 03, 2019

During the Trump administration, the usual ways of conducting diplomacy have been upended. Many positions in the State Department have never been filled, and meetings with foreign leaders such as Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin have been undertaken with little advance planning. What effect are these changes having now, and how will they affect ongoing relationships between the United States and its allies and adversaries?

Visitors look at the models of oil tanker shaped floating nuclear reactors and oil rigs showcased at the display booth of China's state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation during the China International Exhibition on Nuclear Power Industry in Beijing. April 27, 2017 (Andy Wong/Associated Press).

Andy Wong/Associated Press

Journal Article - Maritime Issues

China's Planned Floating Nuclear Power Facilities in South China Sea: Technical and Political Challenges

| Nov. 21, 2018

The operation of the fleet of Chinese floating nuclear power plants in the South China Sea carries with it numerous safety and security risks that may have widespread consequences to not only China but also to Southeast Asia and beyond.

Visitors walk across the Yalu River Broken Bridge, right, next to the Friendship Bridge connecting China and North Korea in Dandong in northeastern China's Liaoning province.

(AP Photo/Emily Wang)

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Conflict and Chaos on the Korean Peninsula: Can China’s Military Help Secure North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons?

    Author:
  • Oriana Skylar Mastro
| Fall 2018

China’s military could play a vital role in securing or destroying Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons if the North Korean regime collapsed.

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Pennsylvania transits the Hood Canal in Washington.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda R. Gray

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Escalation through Entanglement: How the Vulnerability of Command-and-Control Systems Raises the Risks of an Inadvertent Nuclear War

    Author:
  • James Acton
| Summer 2018

The risks of nuclear escalation are greater than ever given the possibility of misinterpreted cyber espionage and military strikes against early warning systems. 

teaser image

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.