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

Pressuring China on North Korea Could Be a Mistake

, China project manager and senior analyst

The Trump administration is intentionally putting China in very tough spot. It is attempting to make the Chinese leadership believe it must choose between a preemptive US attack on North Korea or agreeing to US requests to strangle North Korea’s economy with even tougher sanctions, including cutting off North Korea’s oil supply at the beginning of winter. That may seem like clever diplomacy to some. But it’s a high stakes game of poker that the United States could lose.
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Chinese Military Strategy: A Work in Progress

, China project manager and senior analyst

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), presents the heads of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Science with the military flag in Beijing, capital of China, July 19, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Several years ago UCS reported China could put its nuclear weapons on high alert so they could be launched on warning of an incoming attack. Last week I had the opportunity to speak with some of the authors of The Science of Military Strategy: the authoritative Chinese military publication that was the source of the information in our report.

In a lively discussion, most of which took place between the authors themselves, I was able to confirm our original report is accurate. But I also learned more about how and why The Science of Military Strategy was written and what that can tell US observers about the broader context of how military thinking is evolving in China. Read more >

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Whose Finger Is on the Button? Nuclear Launch Authority in the United States and Other Nations

, analyst

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, and perhaps even more since Trump’s election, the media discovered a newfound interest in the minutiae of US nuclear policy. One question in particular has been asked over and over—can the president, with no one else to concur or even advise, order the use of US nuclear weapons? Most people have been shocked and somewhat horrified to find that there is a simple answer—yes. Read more >

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Scientists to Congress: The Iran Deal is a Keeper

, co-director and senior scientist

The July 2015 Iran Deal, which places strict, verified restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities, is again under attack by President Trump. This time he’s kicked responsibility over to Congress to “fix” the agreement and promised that if Congress fails to do so, he will withdraw from it.

As the New York Times reported, in response to this development over 90 prominent scientists sent a letter to leading members of Congress yesterday urging them to support the Iran Deal—making the case that continued US participation will enhance US security. Read more >

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Don’t Make the Same Mistake on Iran that Bush Made on North Korea

, co-director and senior scientist

Press reports say President Trump will likely not certify Iranian compliance with the Iran nuclear deal in the near future, setting up a situation in which Congress can reimpose sanctions and effectively end US compliance with the deal. Read more >

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