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. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius talk after Hammond's statement about recent negotiations over Iran's nuclear program in London on March 21, 2015

    Commentary

    Grounds for Cautious Optimism on an Iran Nuclear Deal

    Sufficient information is available to be optimistic about the characteristics of the framework accord anticipated by the end of this month. Many Americans might be surprised to learn what has already been accomplished under the interim agreement that laid the groundwork for the comprehensive deal now being negotiated.

    Mar 26, 2015

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union, as campaign billboards rotate in Tel Aviv, March 9, 2015

    Commentary

    New Israeli Government, New Position on Iran?

    With elections taking place in Israel today, would a change of leadership lead to a fundamentally different Israeli stance on a nuclear deal? You'd think the answer was easy. But it's not.

    Mar 17, 2015

  • NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman works outside the International Space Station's Quest airlock in October 2014

    Commentary

    Don't Worry About Russia Backing Away from Space and WMD Cooperation

    Two symbols of U.S.-Russian cooperation are nearing the end of their life expectancies, the International Space Station and the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. But both stand as remarkable milestones of achievement and reminders of what can be accomplished when nations put aside political differences for the betterment of humanity.

    Feb 27, 2015

  • Report

    The United States' European Phased Adaptive Approach Missile Defense System: Defending Against Iranian Missile Threats Without Diluting the Russian Deterrent

    The reformed European Phased Adaptive Approach missile defense system remains capable of reaching Iranian missiles without diluting Russia's deterrent. This change policy should enable further U.S.-Russia nuclear arms reduction talks.

    Feb 13, 2015

  • Army and police officers loyal to the Iran-backed Houthi movement shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration to show support in Sanaa, January 23, 2015

    Commentary

    Relax, Iran Is Not Taking Over the Middle East

    Nuclear negotiations should not be held hostage to all of the things Iran may be doing right or wrong. The conflicts in the Middle East are much more complex than “Iran on the march” theories would have us believe.

    Feb 11, 2015

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claps during a photo session at a meeting of military and political cadres in this undated photo released by the KCNA, February 2, 2015

    Commentary

    North Korean Charm Offensive: Peace for Our Time?

    Is North Korea really sincere about wanting to negotiate improved relations with South Korea and the United States? Or is it seeking to undermine the strength and sovereignty of its neighbor, just as Germany did before World War II?

    Feb 3, 2015

  • Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran: Implications for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime

    One of a series of RAND Perspectives on what the Middle East and U.S. policy might look like in "the days after a deal" with Iran, this Perspective examines a deal's implications for the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

    Feb 2, 2015

  • A C-130H Hercules landing in its new home in Southwest Asia in September 2014

    Report

    The Role of the USAF in the Days After a Deal with Iran

    The U.S. will face a complex set of policy issues and trade-offs in the aftermath of a nuclear agreement with Iran. The U.S. Air Force should see itself as having a role in informing senior-level policy discussions as to how its military posture in the region could be designed in support of alternative U.S. policies toward Iran.

    Feb 2, 2015

  • U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomes newly elected Republican senators, November 12, 2014

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran: Congress's Role in Implementing a Nuclear Agreement

    The president has extensive authority under the law to provide sanctions relief to Iran as part of a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Nevertheless, Congress can take a range of steps to facilitate, hinder, or even block the executive branch's efforts.

    Feb 2, 2015

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during a news conference at the 69th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 26, 2014

    Commentary

    Congress Should Delay New Iran Sanctions

    The new Congress is racing to pass legislation that would institute new sanctions on Iran during ongoing nuclear negotiations. This undermines U.S. efforts to peacefully eliminate the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

    Jan 23, 2015

  • An exhibit on the Cuban Missile Crisis at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, December 18, 2014

    Commentary

    Greater Disorder Does Not Imply Greater Insecurity

    President Obama said in June, “If you had to choose any moment to be born in human history…you'd choose this time. The world is less violent than it has ever been.” While his proposition may seem incongruous with the present crises across Eurasia, evidence suggests that the world is indeed becoming more secure.

    Jan 7, 2015

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko visit the Russian Defense Ministry's control room, Moscow, December 23, 2014

    Commentary

    Yes, Russia's Military Is Getting More Aggressive

    As Russia's relations with the U.S. and Europe have deteriorated following Moscow's aggression in Ukraine, fly-bys of European neighbors by Russian aircraft have taken on new urgency. How should the West think about these provocative flights in light of understanding Russia's nuclear threat?

    Dec 31, 2014

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif before a meeting in Vienna November 23, 2014

    Commentary

    An Iran Nuclear Deal Is Still Possible, and Here's Why

    The United States and other world powers returned to the negotiating table this week to try to finalize a nuclear agreement with Iran after announcing a seven-month extension in late November. How did the parties get this far?

    Dec 19, 2014

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    Multimedia

    Congressional Options and Their Likely Consequences for a Nuclear Deal with Iran

    In this December 2014 Congressional Briefing, Larry Hanauer identifies and assesses eight potential courses of action that Congress could take that might either facilitate, hinder, or block implementation of a nuclear deal with Iran.

    Dec 16, 2014

  • Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev meets with U.S. President Barack Obama during a nuclear security summit in April 2010

    Commentary

    Celebrating the Success of Project Sapphire

    Twenty years ago this week, the United States transported over 600 kilograms of at-risk, weapons-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Kazakhstan to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for safekeeping. Kazakhstan had the courage to trust its new relationship with the U.S. to help prevent the proliferation of dangerous material to countries that might seek to build nuclear weapons.

    Nov 21, 2014

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the 69th U.N. General Assembly on September 29 that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far greater threat to the world than Islamic State militants

    Commentary

    Not to Worry, Israel

    Some Israelis worry that America's fight against the Islamic State is distracting from the Iranian nuclear challenge. But the idea that the U.S. would make additional concessions to Iran in the nuclear negotiations because of the anti-Islamic State group effort is not based on realities on the ground.

    Oct 23, 2014

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

    Commentary

    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