Nuclear Weapons

The Cold War is over, but the United States and Russia still keep thousands of nuclear weapons on alert and in reserve. Understand the issues with our technical and political analysis.


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Latest Nuclear Weapons Posts

North Korea’s New Rocket Engine Test: What Does It Mean?

, co-director and senior scientist

North Korea announced on Tuesday that it had successfully tested a new, larger rocket engine. It says the engine will allow it build a more capable satellite launcher—a “rocket for the geo-stationary satellite.”

Many outside North Korea, however, see its satellite launch program as a way of developing technologies that it could use to build long-range military missiles.

What do we know about the new engine, and what might its implications be? Read more >

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Obama @ the UN: Nuclear Options

, Washington representative and senior analyst

Tomorrow, Barack Obama will deliver his last address to the United Nations as president.  What will he say? What should he say?

He is likely to touch on a range of global issues, including climate change. I hope he will find some time to focus on security issues, in particular nuclear weapons.

Read more >

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A front view of four nuclear free-fall bombs on a bomb cart. Photo: Wikimedia

Turkey Wrap: A Collection of Stories about US H-bombs in Turkey

, Washington representative and senior analyst

On July 15, a portion of the Turkish military launched an attempted coup against the country’s elected government.  While much of the initial coverage focused on the coup itself, soon there was a spate of stories on the fact—alarming to many— that Turkey hosts approximately 50 U.S. nuclear weapons, all B-61 gravity bombs that can be used by U.S. fighter aircraft or bombers.

Here are links to the most prominent pieces, along with some key excerpts. Read more >

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Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence: Korea and No First Use

, China project manager and senior analyst
"Scenes of Atomic Weapons Explosions": A Chinese propaganda poster. The quote from Chairman Mao on the left reads: "The atomic bomb is a paper tiger used by the US reactionary clique to scare people. It appears frightening but in reality it is not."

A Chinese propaganda poster titled, “Scenes of Atomic Weapons Explosions.” The quote from Chairman Mao in red on the left reads: “The atomic bomb is a paper tiger used by the US reactionary clique to scare people. It appears frightening but in reality it is not.”

There are US defense and foreign policy experts who assert that history proves the United States should retain the option to use nuclear weapons to prevent non-nuclear attacks against the United States and its allies. The evidence supporting that assertion is questionable.

The historical record in Europe is ambiguous. Although there was no Soviet attack against Western Europe during the Cold War it is difficult to prove US threats to use nuclear weapons were responsible for preventing it. There is convincing evidence, however, that the fear of US nuclear weapons failed to deter the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from attacking US forces in Korea. Read more >

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Japan Can Accept No First Use

, China project manager and senior analyst
Estimated effects of a single Chinese nuclear warhead targeting the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka in retaliation for U.S. first use of nuclear weapons in a conventional war with China.

Estimated effects of a single Chinese nuclear warhead targeting the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka in retaliation for U.S. first use of nuclear weapons in a conventional war with China.

Most Japanese security professionals currently prefer the United States maintain the option to use nuclear weapons first. But should President Obama declare that the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter and, if necessary, respond to the use of nuclear weapons by another country, extensive interviews with those same Japanese security professionals indicate they would accept the change. Read more >

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