John V. Parachini

Photo of John Parachini
Senior International and Defense Researcher, former Director of RAND National Defense Research Institute's Intelligence Policy Center; Affiliate Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office


M.B.A., Georgetown University; M.A. in international relations, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; B.A. in philosophy, Haverford College

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

More Experts


John Parachini (he, him, his) is a senior international and defense researcher, former director of the RAND Intelligence Policy Center, and a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. His primary areas of research include intelligence, counterterrorism, weapons proliferation, and warning. He has led RAND projects on the history and future of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; terrorists' interest in and acquisition of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons; Russian and Chinese conventional arms sales; North Korean decisionmaking; open-source Intelligence; foreign terrorist fighter adaptations to countermeasures; artificial intelligence (AI) in China; and emerging technologies.

Parachini has testified before both houses of Congress and published articles on terrorism and weapons proliferation in the Washington Quarterly, Arms Control Today, RAND Review, The Nonproliferation Review, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, PrismLos Angeles TimesSan Francisco Chronicle, Newsday, USA Today, Asian Military ReviewRealClearWorld, RealClearDefenseThe Hill, and International Herald Tribune.

Previously, Parachini served as executive director of the Washington office of the Monterey Institute of International Studies' Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Before that, he was a senior associate at the Henry L. Stimson Center, where he focused on nonproliferation and arms control issues. He also served in short assignments at the U.S. State Department.

Parachini has taught at Georgetown University, the University of Southern California Washington Policy Center, and the City University of New York's Baruch College. He earned his Ph.D. in international relations from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.

Previous Positions

Executive Director, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies; Senior Associate, Henry L. Stimson Center

Recent Projects

  • Strategic Warning: Organizing and Managing the Mission for the Current Era
  • Foreign Fighters and Adaptations to Countermeasures
  • Advancing USMC OSINT Capabilities: Leveraging Intelligence Community Best Practices
  • Factors Shaping North Korea's Thinking on Deterrence, Coercion, Escalation and Conflict Termination
  • Identifying Emerging Technologies and New Uses of Existing Technologies

Selected Publications

John V. Parachini, Rohan Gunaratna, Implications of the Pandemic for Terrorist Interest in Biological Weaspons, RAND Corporation (RR-A612-1), 2022 (forthcoming)

John V. Parachini, Ryan Bauer, Peter A. Wilson, Impact of the U.S. and Allied Sanction Regimes on Russian Arms Sales, RAND Corporation (RR-A1341-1), 2021

John V. Parachini, Scott W. Harold, Gian Gentile, Derek Grossman, Leah Heejin Kim, Logan Ma, Michael J. Mazarr, Linda Robinson, North Korean Decisionmaking Economic Opening, Conventional Deterrence Breakdown, and Nuclear Use, RAND Corporation (RR-A165-1), 2020

Cortney Weinbaum, John V. Parachini, Richard S. Girven, Michael H. Decker, Richard C. Baffa, Perspective and Opportunities in Intelligence for U.S. Leaders, RAND Corporation (PE-287-OSD), 2018

Brian A. Jackson et al., Breaching the Fortress Wall: Understanding Terrorist Efforts to Overcome Defensive Technologies, RAND Corporation (MG-481), 2007

Brian A. Jackson et al., Aptitude for Destruction, Vol. 2: Case Studies of Organizational Learning in Five Terrorist Groups, RAND Corporation (MG-331), 2005

Sara A. Daly et al., Aum Shinrikyo, Al Qaeda and the Kinshasa Reactor: Implications of Three Case Studies for Combating Nuclear Terrorism, RAND Corporation (DB-458), 2005

John Parachini et al., Diversion of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons Expertise from the Former Soviet Union: Understanding an Evolving Problem, RAND Corporation (DB-457), 2005



Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Agence France Press; Australian Financial Review; BBC; Boston Globe; CBS; Christian Science Monitor; CNN; Congressional Quarterly; Dallas Morning News; Fox; KCBS-AM; MSNBC; National Journal; NPR; Reuters; Shephard Media; St. Petersburg Times (FL); Toronto Star; Voice of America;; WTOP


  • The Russian flag flies above the Embassy of the Russian Federation, Washington, D.C., February 22, 2022, photo by Tom Brenner/Reuters

    A Test of How Effective Sanctions Are

    The threat of severe sanctions failed to stop a Russian invasion of Ukraine. But if and when harsher economic punishment is handed down to Moscow, what effect might it have?

    Feb 24, 2022 RealClearWorld

  • “Checkmate,” the new Sukhoi fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, at the opening ceremony of the MAKS 2021 air show in Zhukovsky, Russia, July 20, 2021, photo by Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

    Is Russia's Su-75 'Checkmate' Aircraft a Case of Vapor Marketing?

    During a Moscow air show last summer, Russia rolled out a mockup of the Su-75, a multipurpose fighter-bomber designed to compete in the global marketplace. But given the Russian aerospace sector's difficulties in developing, let alone delivering, advanced combat aircraft, prospective buyers should consider a range of options to meet defense needs.

    Jan 6, 2022 Defense One

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadéra at the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, October 23, 2019., photo by Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via Reuters

    What Does Africa Need Most Now: Russian Arms Sales or Good Vaccines?

    Why is Russia's main export to Africa advanced conventional weapons at a time when other needs are so great? African leaders might think twice about aggressive Russian arms pitches and engagement of mercenaries, and prioritize measures to stem the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage economic growth.

    Nov 17, 2021 RealClearWorld

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting via video link from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 21, 2020, photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Reuters

    Russia Engine Troubles: Is Putin's Behavior Catching Up with Him?

    Actions taken to curb Russian malign activities around the globe appear to be affecting Russia's marine and aerospace engine sector. Efforts to arrest Russia's bad behavior might gain momentum if more countries followed the lead of Norway, which chose supporting sanctions over short-term economic gain.

    Jun 15, 2021 The RAND Blog

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a videoconference meeting with members of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Board of Trustees at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, December 24, 2020, photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/Reuters

    Sanctions Targeting Russia's Defense Sector: Will They Influence Its Behavior?

    In response to recent Russian cyber espionage, interference in U.S. elections, and the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, President Biden announced a new round of sanctions and expulsions of Russian officials. But will these sanctions hurt Russia's defense industry enough to curb the Kremlin's behavior?

    May 20, 2021 RealClearDefense

  • Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump storm the Capitol building in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video, photo by Brendan Gutenschwager/Reuters

    An Early Policy Victory for DNI Haines: Boost the Priority of Open Sources Information

    The quantity, quality, and accessibility of publicly available information has exploded over the past decades. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has an opportunity to advance intelligence community mission activities on several key issues shaped by the digital information age, including the role of publicly available information.

    Mar 4, 2021 The Hill

  • President-elect Joe Biden stands with his nominees for his national security team at his transition headquarters in the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, November 24, 2020, photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Biden and the U.S. Intelligence Community

    President-elect Biden faces a daunting domestic and foreign policy agenda. Choosing an experienced hand like former CIA Deputy Director Avril Haines to be the next Director of National Intelligence could help restore the Intelligence Community's role in informing White House decisionmaking.

    Nov 25, 2020 The Hill

  • A Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile system fires a missile during the International Army Games 2017 outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 5, 2017, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operational Limits of Air Defense Systems

    External powers have intervened in the civil wars in Libya and Syria, supplying advanced conventional weapons that have intensified the conflicts. But not all of the weapons have performed as claimed.

    Jul 2, 2020 RealClearDefense

  • A Yakovlev Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft performs during the International Army Games 2016, in Dubrovichi outside Ryazan, Russia, August 5, 2016, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Spending Smart or Spending Big: The Value of Systematic Assessments of Weapons Procurement

    Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and inevitable economic difficulties, national governments should be encouraged to weigh their military requirements in a more cost-effective manner. Countries need to think strategically about the life cycle costs of equipment, not just the original purchase price.

    Jun 8, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Mi-17 helicopters fly in formation during military exercises at the firing ground Koktal in Almaty Region, Kazakhstan, May 3, 2019, photo  by Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters

    Are Military Purchases in SE Asia for Political Balancing a Good Use of National Defense Resources?

    The Philippines has embarked upon a multi-phase, multi-year modernization of its armed forces, but some of the acquisition decisions appear to be driven by political symbolism rather than responsible military decisions. Using military procurement for political symbolism and paying a high price for it takes resources away from other pressing national security and domestic needs.

    May 7, 2020 Asian Military Review

  • The S-400 Triumph surface to air missile system after deployment at a military base near Kaliningrad, Russia, March 11, 2019, photo by Vitaly Nevar/Reuters

    Russian S-400 Surface-to-Air Missile System: Is It Worth the Sticker Price?

    Many countries do not fully appreciate that effective air defense requires a networked system and not just one missile system component. Getting the true defensive value out of the S-400 surface-to-air system requires additional components that add costs and complexities.

    May 6, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • A tank is seen as fighters from Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government take position during a battle with Islamic State militants in Sirte, Libya, September 22, 2016

    Keep Chemical Weapons Out of Terrorist Hands

    As the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front seized territory in Syria and northern Iraq, they came upon military sites with chemical munitions and industrial facilities with toxic chemicals. Reducing such opportunities should be a priority.

    Sep 27, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands following their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, September 9, 2016

    Syria Cease-Fire Should Ban Chemical Weapons

    The United States and Russia negotiated an agreement to suspend fighting in Syria and get relief supplies to trapped civilians. They should not miss an opportunity to regularly and forcefully draw a red line on the use of toxic chemicals as weapons.

    Sep 15, 2016 USA Today

  • Arab Spring, not Osama bin Laden's Fall, Will Determine Middle East's Fate

    The unanswered question is just what will endure in the Arab world: comparatively peaceful demonstrations leading to regime change, or brutal tactics by authoritarian regimes to crush dissent and cling to power, writes John Parachini.

    May 9, 2011 Christian Science Monitor

  • A Bottom-Up Peace in Afghanistan

    The Afghan government has embarked on a high-stakes gamble: Try to negotiate with the leaders of the various insurgent networks to end the nine-year-old Afghan war, write Wali Shaaker and John Parachini.

    Jul 15, 2010 Providence Journal

  • Rereading the Duelfer Report

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Nov 15, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • Iraq's Had Time to Really Hide Its Weapons Sites

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 19, 2002 Newsday

  • Deny Victory to Anthrax Terrorists

    By keeping in mind the modest scope of the anthrax attacks and not overreacting, we deny the perpetrators of these attacks their objective of terrorizing us into doing what they want us to do. These anthrax cases do, however, highlight some areas for improvement in America's response that can help reduce fear and anxiety, thereby denying the terrorists their objective.

    Oct 17, 2001 International Herald Tribune

  • Religion Isn't Sole Motive of Terror

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 16, 2001 Los Angeles Times