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.

  • 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.

    Commentary

    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

  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing to learn about the ICBM mission and the people who operate, maintain, secure, and support the Minuteman III weapon system

    Commentary

    America's New Missile Gap

    With the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military refocused on the non-nuclear realm. In most cases, military professionals moved seamlessly into this realm, but the land-based missileers lacked the option to shift their focus.

    Feb 25, 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

  • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, President Hassan Rouhani, and Mohammad Nahavandian at the World Economic Forum

    Commentary

    Why New Sanctions on Iran Won't Work

    Sanctions are not a button that can be pushed to strengthen the U.S. position automatically; they must be used in tandem with diplomacy, and a deeper understanding of Iranian, Chinese and Russian motivations.

    Jan 23, 2014

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Making Sense of Nuclear Negotiations with Iran: A Good Deal or a Bad Deal?

    In this January 2014 Congressional Briefing, a panel of experts discusses the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 that have resulted in a first-step agreement of a possible comprehensive deal on the Iranian nuclear program.

    Jan 22, 2014

  • Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Reza Najafi attends a news conference in Vienna

    Commentary

    A 'Nixon to China' Moment with Iran?

    The current negotiations with Iran designed to eliminate its nuclear weapons capability seem to lack a broader strategic objective: stabilizing the Middle East with a regional balance of power. What does the China experience tell us about prospects for a strategic breakthrough with Iran?

    Dec 24, 2013

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the United Nations Headquarters after the P5+1 member nations concluded a nuclear deal with Iran in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 24, 2013.

    Commentary

    A First Step in Geneva

    The Geneva agreement is only a first step toward a comprehensive deal but it is an important achievement. Iran's ability to move toward a nuclear weapons breakout capability has been halted in return for limited sanctions relief.

    Nov 25, 2013

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem November 6, 2013

    Commentary

    Playing Good Cop, Bad Cop with Iran

    On the one hand, U.S. negotiators must convince their Iranian counterparts that the United States is serious about offering genuine sanctions relief in return for Tehran making concessions on its nuclear ambitions. On the other hand, the negotiating team must also assuage the concerns of allies and members of Congress.

    Nov 22, 2013

  • Nuclear talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva November 20, 2013

    Commentary

    We're Close to a Good Deal with Iran. Why Sabotage It?

    It appears that Iran and the P5+1 are close to agreeing for Tehran to suspend major aspects of its program, including the enrichment of uranium to a medium level of 20 percent, and installation of more advanced centrifuges, in return for reversible and limited easing of sanctions.

    Nov 21, 2013

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses an international assembly of reporters upon arriving in Geneva

    Commentary

    The Geneva Blame Game

    Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Britain, France, China, and Russia plus Germany) came tantalizingly close to reaching a nuclear deal this past weekend in Geneva, but the talks ended without an agreement. Although both Iran and the United States expressed optimism that much was achieved, a blame game between the different players soon ensued.

    Nov 15, 2013

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    Commentary

    A Different Israeli Take on Iran

    An agreement did not come out of last week's talks. But when the participants resume negotiations later this month, they should keep one thing in mind: Not all Israelis are as alarmed about a potential deal as Netanyahu. Despite Netanyahu's hard line, many Israelis believe diplomacy can work.

    Nov 12, 2013

  • European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before the start of two days of nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013

    Commentary

    Pause on Additional Iran Sanctions Crucial to Negotiations

    The Nov. 7–8 negotiations between Iran and six world powers (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany) could prove to be a critical point in the Iranian nuclear crisis. New sanctions under consideration by Congress could lead to a weakening of the overall U.S. position.

    Nov 6, 2013

  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Jeh Johnson during an announcement for Johnson to be his nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security

    Commentary

    Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for New Homeland Security Secretary

    To ensure the Department of Homeland Security makes progress in the current constrained budget environment, its new secretary must put in place a strategic perspective to guide priorities for how to address the country's most pressing problems in disaster management, immigration reform, cybersecurity, violent extremism, and nuclear terrorism.

    Oct 24, 2013

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to the media after a meeting of foreign ministers at the U.N. Headquarters in New York September 26, 2013

    Commentary

    Zero-Sum Enrichment

    Sanctions have taken a heavy toll on the Iranian economy, and the Islamic Republic may finally be motivated to take steps to rein in its nuclear program, including accepting limits on uranium enrichment, in exchange for lessening the pressure.

    Oct 14, 2013

  • Eric Schlosser

    Blog

    Lynn Davis Interviews Eric Schlosser on Book TV

    As a guest host of Book TV's “After Words,” Lynn Davis spoke to Eric Schlosser about his latest book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.

    Oct 1, 2013

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot in central Tehran June 14, 2013

    Commentary

    Obama Should Take Iran's Overture Seriously

    If his words are any guide, Iran's supreme leader is pivoting to diplomacy. Long an advocate of “resistance” to the United States, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei now praises his new president, Hassan Rouhani, for his administration's “heroic” and “artful” approach toward foreign policy.

    Sep 23, 2013

  • News Release

    Rivalry, Cooperation Between Turkey and Iran Changing Along with the Middle East

    Economic cooperation between Turkey and Iran has increased over the past decade — mainly due to Iran's vast oil and natural gas reserves — but the degree of cooperation between the two nations should not be exaggerated.

    Aug 29, 2013

  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) during their meeting in Tehran in 2009

    Report

    Rivalry, Cooperation Between Turkey and Iran Changing Along with the Middle East

    Economic cooperation between Turkey and Iran has increased over the past decade — mainly due to Iran's vast oil and natural gas reserves — but the degree of cooperation between the two nations should not be exaggerated.

    Aug 26, 2013

  • Report

    Sustaining the U.S. Air Force Nuclear Mission

    This report proposes a double-layered framework for efficiently integrating and managing the sustainment activities of the U.S. Air Force nuclear enterprise in the face of reduced funding and a smaller force structure.

    Jul 31, 2013