Nuclear Weapons and Warfare

Nuclear weapons, the means of producing them, and their potential use play significant roles in international relations and homeland security. Throughout its history, RAND has provided detailed analyses and recommendations for defense planners and helped policymakers make informed national security decisions with regard to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the nuclear activities of India, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Iran, and other nations.

  • U.S. Amb. Samantha Power, South Korean Amb. Hahn Choong-hee, and Japanese Amb. Koro Bessho after the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the latest missile launches by North Korea, New York, September 6, 2016

    Commentary

    On Northeast Asia

    China has been a major proponent of regional security for Northeast Asia but appears disinterested in Republic of Korea (ROK) security against North Korean missile and nuclear weapon threats.

    Sep 23, 2016

  • Person checking radiation with a geiger counter

    Commentary

    Finding a Nuclear Weapon: Hope Beyond the Screwdriver

    Science and technology is only partly at the point of reliably detecting a nuclear weapon in cities — for some weapons and some adversaries. The solutions for this problem are only partial and are complicated by the nuances of the science.

    Sep 21, 2016

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un waves during a parade at Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang, July 27, 2013

    Commentary

    What to Look for in North Korea's Fifth Nuclear Test

    North Korea's fifth and biggest nuclear test could have implications for U.S. policy toward the North, China's role in the region, and the stability of the Kim regime.

    Sep 9, 2016

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at United Nations headquarters in New York, April 27, 2015

    Commentary

    The End of Nuclear Proliferation?

    As the last case of nuclear proliferation fades further into history, it may become politically difficult to allocate resources to preventing it as other pressing threats, such as bio- and cyber-terrorism, continue to emerge. The time to act to keep nuclear proliferation a thing of the past is now.

    Jul 26, 2016

  • The 9T250-1 transporter and loader vehicle for a Russian Iskander-M system

    Report

    Weighing the Potential Value of Theater Ballistic Missiles in the Pacific

    The U.S. Department of State concluded in 2014 that Russia is in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty. If the treaty cannot be revived, the U.S. Army should assess the value of adding conventional land-based theater ballistic missiles to its portfolio of strike capabilities.

    Jun 28, 2016

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting outside Moscow, July 30, 2014

    Report

    Current and Future Risks of Inadvertent U.S.-Russian Nuclear War

    Understanding how miscalculations and misperceptions can lead to the use of nuclear weapons is an important step toward reducing the probability of an inadvertent nuclear conflict between the United States and Russia.

    Jun 9, 2016

  • Doves fly over the Peace Memorial Park with a view of the gutted A-bomb dome at a ceremony in Hiroshima, Japan

    Commentary

    5 Things That Should Happen When Obama Visits Hiroshima

    On May 27, President Barack Obama will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city of Hiroshima. The visit is a sign of respect and friendship between the American and Japanese people, and should make the two countries' ties even stronger.

    May 23, 2016

  • Dissertation

    Deception in Covert Nuclear Weapons Development: A Framework to Identify, Analyze, and Mitigate Future Long-Term Deception Efforts

    Develops a framework to categorize observable signatures, formulate a judgement on whether long-term deception is taking place, and propose additional areas of collection that may yield evidence of in research and development.

    May 18, 2016

  • Report

    Innovation in the United States Air Force: Evidence from Six Cases

    Air Force senior leaders have asked whether the service is sufficiently innovative today and what can be done to make it more innovative for the future. This report assesses historical cases of Air Force innovation or apparent failure to innovate.

    May 13, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama reviews an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, April 24, 2014

    Commentary

    Obama Should Visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    During his upcoming visit to Japan, President Obama will have an opportunity to do something that none of his predecessors have ever done: visit the first and last cities to suffer atomic bombings.

    Apr 28, 2016

  • Tanks in Beijing during a training exercise for a military parade

    Report

    China's Evolving Approach to Strategic Deterrence May Prove Challenging to the U.S. and Its Allies

    China is rapidly closing what was once a substantial gap between the PLA's strategic weapons capabilities and its strategic deterrence concepts. The United States will likely need to assure its allies that it will continue to maintain the capability and the resolve to support them in a crisis.

    Apr 7, 2016

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in a meeting dealing with the commissioning of military products at the National Defense Control Center in Moscow, March 11, 2016

    Commentary

    How Russia Undermines Nuclear Security

    Russian aggression in Ukraine and nuclear saber rattling are jeopardizing the very global nonproliferation efforts that this week's Nuclear Security Summit in Washington seeks to further. Moscow's actions deserve a stronger response than they have received.

    Apr 1, 2016

  • 20160303-iran-panel3

    Report

    Will the Iran Deal Survive? Iran, Regional Crises, and U.S. Policy

    At this daylong conference hosted by the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy, experts discussed current and future challenges facing the Iran nuclear deal and implications for Iran, the region, and U.S. policy. The panels also addressed a variety of non-nuclear issues.

    Mar 24, 2016

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un holds a meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang

    Journal Article

    Deterrence and Stability for the Korean Peninsula

    Most trends on the Korean Peninsula favor South Korea, but North Korea's nuclear program is a great concern. Although unlikely, war is imaginable in the years ahead. The challenges for deterrence and strategic planning are greater than in the past.

    Mar 8, 2016

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attend a news conference with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann in Tehran, February 27, 2016

    Blog

    After the Iran Nuclear Deal: Challenges and Opportunities

    A series of panel discussions at RAND today drew a range of opinions on the Iran nuclear deal and its aftermath, but also general agreement that despite some improvement, the agreement has not halted Iran's provocative behavior in the region.

    Mar 3, 2016

  • German police found traces of radiation in Hamburg locations linked to a Russian businessman who had met the murdered ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko on the day he fell ill

    Commentary

    Russia on the Horns of a Nuclear Dilemma

    While the murder of Alexander Litvinenko is a human tragedy, broader concerns about the lowering of WMD norms and violations of international law should be addressed. The use of radioactive matter to kill him represents a serious breach of international agreements.

    Feb 19, 2016

  • A North Korean long-range rocket is launched at the Sohae launch site in North Korea, February 7, 2016

    Commentary

    North Korea Rocket Launch: Why Did Kim Fire a Missile Now?

    Kim Jong-un is probably seeking clear successes before his important Seventh Party Congress in May, when he wants to appear to be the all-powerful leader of North Korea.

    Feb 8, 2016

  • Report

    Identifying Key Workplace Stressors Affecting Twentieth Air Force: Analyses Conducted from December 2012 Through February 2013

    A series of focus groups with 20th Air Force personnel and their spouses helped assess such issues as job stress and satisfaction and problem behaviors and solicit suggestions for addressing them.

    Dec 23, 2015

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addresses the fourth conference of artillery personnel of the KPA in Pyongyang, December 5, 2015

    Commentary

    Does North Korea Really Have an H-Bomb?

    Kim Jong Un has claimed that North Korea has an H-bomb. Whether this claim is accurate, or an exaggeration, remains to be seen. But it does highlight how the country's leadership culture requires Kim to periodically demonstrate his power.

    Dec 16, 2015

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in Tehran after returning from the annual UN General Assembly, September 29, 2015

    Testimony

    The Impact of Sanctions Relief on Iran

    The Iran nuclear deal will provide Iran with significant sanctions relief and ease some of its economic stresses. But several factors will limit the regime's ability to grow the economy and use the new resources to achieve its foreign policy objectives.

    Nov 5, 2015