Articles

54 Items

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.

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. 

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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.

Would China Go Nuclear? Assessing the Risk of Chinese Nuclear Escalation in a Conventional War with the United States

AP/Andy Wong

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Would China Go Nuclear? Assessing the Risk of Chinese Nuclear Escalation in a Conventional War with the United States

    Author:
  • Caitlin Talmadge
| Spring 2017

Would China escalate to nuclear use in a conventional war with the United States? If China believed that U.S. conventional attacks on missiles, submarines, air defenses, and command and control systems threatened the survivability of its nuclear forces or that the United States was preparing a counterforce attack, it might engage in limited nuclear escalation to gain military advantage or coerce the United States. The United States will face difficult trade-offs in deciding how best to manage the risk of nuclear escalation.

Soldiers stand on guard next to a Chinese navy nuclear submarine at the Qingdao base in east China's Shandong province on August 19, 2013.

Yin Haiyang/ AP

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Should the United States Reject MAD? Damage Limitation and U.S. Nuclear Strategy toward China

| Summer 2016

China's growing nuclear arsenal threatens to erode the United States' damage-limitation capability—its ability to destroy Chinese forces and thereby significantly reduce the damage that an all-out Chinese nuclear attack would inflict on the United States. Nevertheless, the United States should not attempt to preserve this capability. Doing so is technologically infeasible, would not add to the U.S. nuclear deterrent, would heighten tensions with China, and would increase the risk of nuclear escalation in a crisis.

Military vehicles carrying DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) march past the Tiananmen Rostrum during a military parade, September 3, 2015.

Wei Yao/ AP

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Assuring Assured Retaliation: China’s Nuclear Posture and U.S.-China Strategic Stability

    Authors:
  • Fiona Cunningham
  • M. Taylor Fravel
| Fall 2015

Many analysts worry that recent advances in U.S. military capabilities could cause China to abandon its nuclear strategy of assured retaliation and its no-first-use doctrine. The writings and statements of Chinese nuclear experts, however, suggest that such fears are misplaced.