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

Iran, the United States, and Nuclear Weapons: Questions and Answers

, analyst

Just a few days into the new year, 2020 began with high tensions between the United States and Iran. Kicked off by a US airstrike that killed a leading Iranian general and followed by Iranian missile strikes on bases in Iraq housing US troops, many feared that military conflict could be imminent. One question that raised particular alarm was the prospect that nuclear weapons might be involved. The situation has, fortunately, calmed down, but confusion about the relationship between Iran’s nuclear power program and its ability to build a nuclear weapon, as well as US options for using nuclear weapons against Iran, remains.

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The Human Side of Nuclear Weapons Issues in the FY20 Defense Bill

Lilly Adams, , UCS

Tonight, President Trump is expected to sign the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)  at Joint Base Andrews, a defense budget bill totaling a stunning $738 billion. Much attention has been given to the many ways that Democrats lost out on progressive priorities in this bill. The nuclear arms control and disarmament community lost hard-fought battles over issues like the low-yield warhead, and overall spending levels on nuclear weapons systems.

UCS’s President Ken Kimmel put out an important statement on these issues, urging members of Congress to vote “no” on this dangerous bill. But many nuclear weapons-related issues have been flying under the radar, especially those relating to the communities directly impacted by nuclear weapons production and testing. Here’s a run-down of the issues nuclear policy wonks might have missed in their analysis of the NDAA.

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Have I got a Deal for you! Let’s get this STARTed.

, Washington representative and senior analyst

President Trump claims to be a deal-maker. Russian President Putin has offered him a deal that no reasonable person would turn down – the chance to ensure that the United States and Russia continue to both limit the size of their nuclear arsenals and allow an array of verification measures that allows the two countries to have confidence in what the other is doing. Read more >

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Pope Francis Condemns Nuclear Deterrence

, China project manager and senior analyst

Pope Francis turns to bless the rosary of a Japanese peace activist before speaking in Nagasaki on Sunday, November 24, 2019.

The leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics came to Nagasaki to deliver a sermon on nuclear weapons.

Together with Japanese colleagues working to eliminate those weapons, I waited in a steady rain as Pope Francis offered a long silent prayer in front of the black obelisk marking the epicenter of the nuclear explosion that obliterated the city on August 9, 1945. The visibly shaken pontiff then turned towards us and issued an unequivocal repudiation of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence. Read more >

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US Presidential Hopefuls Should Signal North Korea ASAP

, China project manager and senior analyst

Is Kim Jong-un preparing a dramatic provocation worthy of his predecessors? International analysts of the North Korean nuclear weapons program warn the United States should take his end-of-the-year deadline for negotiations seriously.

The North Korean leadership keeps a careful eye on US domestic politics. They read the presidential polls with the same level of interest as the candidates themselves.

US observers often complain about dramatic shifts in North Korean policy, strategy and tactics, but predicting US policy can be just as difficult. Clinton’s “Agreed Framework” gave way to Bush’s “Axis of Evil.” Obama’s “Strategic Patience” preceded Trump’s “Fire and Fury.” The historic US outreach in Singapore ended with the United States walking out in Hanoi.

Like many Americans, the North Koreans are trying to guess what might come next. Read more >

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