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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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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China Rejects Policy of Nuclear Launch on Warning of an Incoming Attack

, China project manager and senior analyst

International and Chinese participants discuss verification technologies at the 16th PIIC Beijing Seminar on International Security in Shenzhen, China. The conference was sponsored by the Chinese Arms Control and Disarmament Association (CACDA), the Program for Science and National Security Studies (PNSS) at China’s Institute of Applied Physics and Computational Mathematics (IAPCM) and the US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

Fu Cong, the director general of the Arms Control Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently called on all nuclear weapons states to abandon the policy of preparing to launch nuclear weapons on warning of an incoming nuclear attack. He issued the unprecedented official statement in his keynote address to a major international arms control conference held in Shenzhen in mid-October.

Cong also asked nuclear weapons states to take additional steps to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in their national security doctrines, including joining China in publicly committing to never use nuclear weapons first. Read more >

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The United States and China Should Start Over

, China project manager and senior analyst

Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong prepares to proclaim the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949.

President Trump’s trade war is demolishing US–China relations. The presidential candidates, Congress and now General Mattis are all lending a hand. Before long the entire economic, social and cultural infrastructure erected after the United States recognized the People’s Republic in 1979 will be a pile of rubble. Read more >

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“More Nukes” Will Not Make Anyone Safer

, analyst

The New York Times found an odd way to commemorate this year’s anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings—by publishing on August 9 an opinion piece by columnist Bret Stephens titled “The U.S. Needs More Nukes.” Matt Korda has a nice article about it in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. I wanted to add a few comments of my own. Read more >

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Why Did the Pentagon Conduct a Treaty-Violating Test?

, co-director and senior scientist

On Sunday, the Pentagon announced that it had launched a Tomahawk cruise missile with a range “more than 500 kilometers” from a ground-based launcher at a test site in California.

The purpose, it said, was to use “data collected and lessons learned from this test” to “inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”

The real purpose of the test, however, appears to be to underscore the US decision to leave the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by conducting a launch that would violate the terms of the treaty. INF prohibited all US and Russian land-based missiles, or launchers for those missiles, with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. Read more >

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