Nuclear Deterrence

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The range of nuclear deterrence strategies includes minimal or "limited" deterrence, massive retaliation with a force greater than that originally used by the aggressor, and mutual assured destruction ("MAD"). From RAND's Soviet-era work on game theory to today's current states of concern, such as North Korea and Iran, RAND has applied strategic analysis to international deterrence efforts, with particular focus on the roles of both diplomacy and missile defense systems in global and regional security.

Explore Nuclear Deterrence

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov shake hands at a news conference in Moscow, August 29, 2014

    Blog

    Why Iran Can't Walk Away from Nuclear Talks So Easily

    If the public inflexibility of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif isn't mere diplomatic posturing, they would be gambling not only with their own political futures, but the futures of 80 million Iranians as well.

    Sep 26, 2014

  • News Release

    Pentagon Should Elevate the Importance of Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction in Operational Planning

    Although the United States military has determined countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to be a strategic priority, policymakers have invested too little in the forces and capabilities needed to eliminate vulnerable arsenals.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • A worker engages in decontamination procedures

    Research Brief

    Closing the Strategy-Policy Gap in Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction

    Two presidents have declared counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) a top national priority, but it has not been budgeted or resourced as such. This brief summarizes ground force capacities and capabilities needed to eliminate WMD.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • The Flying Dragons flew in support of a joint air assault in which Soldiers conducted a search for illegal weapons on various compounds throughout Nawa Valley, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, May 25, 2014

    Report

    Pentagon Should Elevate the Importance of Eliminating WMDs in Operational Planning

    Joint force commanders should carefully consider requirements for eliminating weapons of mass destruction in their contingency and operational planning. And DoD policy decisions involving Army force structure should consider the conventional ground force requirements of such operations.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during a meeting in Ankara, June 10, 2014

    Blog

    Nuclear Deal or No Deal, Don't Expect Iran Changes

    The impeachment of Iranian science minister Faraji-Dana, the latest in the struggle between Iran's so-called moderates and hard-liners, is likely a sign of troubling times ahead. Rouhani is the West's best hope of the nuclear issue being addressed, but a deal could energize his rivals in their bid to stave off change.

    Sep 8, 2014

  • A demonstrator, her face painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, outside the Israeli Embassy in London, July 26, 2014

    Blog

    Gaza and the Nuclear Negotiations

    Whether a deal materializes that meets Iranian demands for a civilian nuclear program, but is limited enough to satisfy the U.S. and its partners remains to be seen. But the longer the Gaza conflict continues, the harder it'll be to insulate the negotiations from broader regional trends.

    Jul 28, 2014

  • t-call-experts-hr

    Multimedia

    Media Conference Call on Iran's Nuclear Program — U.S. Policy Choices and the Challenges Ahead

    RAND international security experts Lynn E. Davis and Alireza Nader hosted a media conference call on Monday, July 14, 2014 to discuss the July 20 deadline for the P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany) to reach a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, and the policy choices confronting the United States should an agreement be reached. Media relations manager Joe Dougherty moderated the call.

    Jul 14, 2014

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009

    Blog

    Can U.S. and Iran Work Together in Iraq?

    The presence of Iranian and American troops in Iraq may necessitate clear and direct communications between the two sides, at least to prevent misunderstanding and greater chaos. But Washington should tread carefully and focus on nuclear negotiations for now.

    Jul 3, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrives at a news conference

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran: U.S. Policies of Hedging and Engaging

    Is the emerging consensus on a set of policies toward Iran and U.S. regional partners the best approach? Or might these policies eliminate opportunities for the United States to alter the U.S.-Iran relationship — and potentially undercut support in Iran for the agreement?

    Jun 10, 2014

  • An Iranian flag flutters in front of the UN headquarters in Vienna June 17, 2014 as six world powers and Iran began their fifth round of nuclear negotiations

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran

    An analysis of the possible effects on Iranian foreign policy stemming from a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 details Rouhani's likely hopes for a post-deal foreign policy, the domestic constraints on his goals, and how a final deal might affect Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and the U.S.

    Jun 10, 2014

  • The United Nations headquarters building is pictured in Vienna where six world powers and Iran launched the decisive phase of diplomacy over Tehran's nuclear work on May 14, 2014

    Event

    Israeli, Saudi, and Iranian Responses in the Days After a Deal With Iran: What Are the U.S. Options?

    RAND experts will discuss the likely concerns and reactions of Israel and Saudi Arabia and the internal power dynamics and motivations of the Iranian government. Understanding these factors and U.S. options to address them will be critical for policymakers to implement a final nuclear agreement.

    Jun 4, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference after the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai May 22, 2014

    Blog

    Let's Make a Deal: Iran Edition

    Washington will strive to achieve the best deal for U.S. and allied interests. Iran may not like that; after all, Khamenei may want to preserve most of Iran's nuclear-weapons capability. But his regime is simply in no position to make such maximalist demands. Iran has to lower its expectations if it wants a deal.

    Jun 2, 2014

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after the P5+1 and Iran concluded negotiations about Iran's nuclear capabilities on November 24, 2013

    Content

    The Days After a Deal With Iran

    With the possibility of a nuclear deal between the United States and its P5+1 allies, RAND researchers are examining potential policy outcomes on U.S.-Iran relations and the effects that a nuclear agreement would have around the Middle East.

    Jun 1, 2014

  • Report

    Challenges in U.S. National Security Policy: A Festschrift Honoring Edward L. (Ted) Warner

    Among Ted Warner's many notable accomplishments, perhaps the most important has been the opportunity to mentor a substantial number of exceptionally talented men and women on various aspects of U.S. and Russian defense and arms control policy.

    May 13, 2014

  • April 30th Conference on Chinese Strategic Thinking

    Blog

    Experts, Scholars Evaluate Chinese Strategic Thinking

    Despite international concerns about an increasingly assertive China, there has been little systematic assessment of whether Chinese military strategy is changing. On April 30, experts, scholars, and government analysts gathered at RAND Corporation offices to evaluate changing Chinese strategic thinking.

    May 12, 2014

  • European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wait for the start of talks in Vienna April 9, 2014

    Blog

    Too Important to Fail

    Preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state would contribute to global security, and especially to the security and stability of the Middle East, but these are not the only considerations at hand.

    Apr 18, 2014

  • General David Petraeus, Stephen Hadley, and David Ignatius

    Blog

    RAND Conference: Iran in the Days After a Nuclear Deal

    Expressing optimism that a deal to end Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons could succeed, experts said during a panel discussion at RAND that such an agreement could open the door to a new era for Iran, free of international sanctions but still cautious of relations with the U.S.

    Apr 3, 2014

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, displaying on Monday what Israel said were seized Iranian-supplied missiles bound for militants in Gaza. He called on the West not to be fooled by Tehran's diplomatic outreach over its nuclear program.

    Blog

    Iran Deal: Will Israel Play Spoiler?

    Israel will not embrace an agreement that is likely to leave in place some limited Iranian nuclear enrichment and infrastructure, but it nonetheless will not likely derail a deal with actions like a military strike.

    Mar 12, 2014

  • Report

    The Future of the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force

    Assesses alternatives for a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) across a broad set of potential characteristics and situations and weighs them against the costs of those alternatives.

    Feb 4, 2014

  • Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner applaud as President Barack Obama finishes his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014

    Blog

    State of the Union 2014: President Obama Calls for a Year of Action

    Obama called for “a year of action” to achieve his 2014 agenda — from helping people sign up for health insurance, to immigration reform, to completing the mission in Afghanistan. RAND is committed to raising the level of public policy debates and offering evidence-based, actionable solutions.

    Jan 29, 2014