Arms Proliferation and Control

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The U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race ended in détente, but nuclear development efforts and WMD proliferation in India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran have caused geopolitical instability since the Cold War's end. RAND has applied strategic analysis to nuclear confrontation scenarios and international deterrence efforts since its earliest work on game theory, with particular focus on the roles of both diplomacy and missile defense systems in global as well as regional security.

  • AI robot pressing a nuclear launch button.

    Article

    How Artificial Intelligence Could Increase the Risk of Nuclear War

    Apr 24, 2018

    Advances in AI have provoked a new kind of arms race among nuclear powers. This technology could challenge the basic rules of nuclear deterrence and lead to catastrophic miscalculations.

  • Iran flag and ICBM

    Commentary

    The Iran Deal Will Survive, at Least for Now

    Apr 4, 2018

    A U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal does not necessarily mean the deal will collapse. But a broader collapse of the agreement along with the imposition of harsh sanctions in the coming months could sharply escalate tensions with Iran.

Explore Arms Proliferation and Control

  • Women walk past a TV broadcasting a news report on the cancelled summit between the U.S. and North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, May 25, 2018

    Commentary

    Canceled Summit Doesn't Spell End to U.S.-North Korea Nuclear Diplomacy

    President Trump canceled his June 12 meeting with Kim Jong-un but left the door open for a future one. Successful diplomacy will require tending and fostering U.S. relations with China, Japan, and South Korea while forging an entirely new relationship with North Korea.

    May 25, 2018

  • Iranian flag

    Commentary

    Regime Appears Fragile as Iranians Turn Much of Their Ire Inward

    Economic hardship is fueling unrest in Iran. New sanctions stemming from the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal may exacerbate already difficult conditions. Now might be the time to exert maximum pressure on the regime in an effort to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table.

    May 21, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump just before signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    The Strategic Fallout of U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Deal

    President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement. What will happen next? Friction between the United States and its European allies will likely increase, while Iran moves closer to China and Russia. Also, the resentment of a new generation of Iranians toward America is likely to grow.

    May 10, 2018

  • American and North Korean flags facing opposite directions

    Multimedia

    Understanding and Shaping the Ongoing Korea Crisis

    In this Events @ RAND podcast, Bruce W. Bennett offers RAND alumni and supporters his analysis of recent developments in North Korea and suggests new strategies for putting pressure on Kim Jong-un at the negotiating table.

    Mar 26, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including the State Duma parliamentarians, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2018

    Commentary

    Red Glare: The Origin and Implications of Russia's 'New' Nuclear Weapons

    Why would Russia, which has over 1,500 deployed strategic nuclear warheads that can be delivered from existing ballistic and cruise missiles, invest in new, exotic systems? The answer is deeply rooted in modern Russian and Soviet history.

    Mar 26, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the crowd during a military parade in Pyongyang, April 15, 2012

    Commentary

    What Will Kim Jong Un Want and What He Might Give

    Verifiable denuclearization is an impossible goal, not just because Kim Jong Un may not agree, but because such a deal couldn't be fully verified if he did. But this doesn't mean there is no deal worth making for America.

    Mar 12, 2018

  • A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran, September 27, 2017

    Commentary

    Can Europe Save the Iran Nuclear Deal?

    In mid-January, President Trump threatened to withdraw from the Iran agreement if Europe does not “fix” it within four months. There are viable steps Europe could take to address Trump's concerns about the deal—on missile development, inspections, and sunset clauses. But if the United States withdraws, Europe could still work with other international powers to keep the deal alive.

    Mar 12, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia March 1, 2018

    Commentary

    Could Putin's Speech Signal the Erosion of Nuclear Nonproliferation?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has linked the development of new nuclear weapons capabilities to the United States' refusal to collaborate on arms control. Perhaps before Russia goes down this path, another attempt at dialogue would be beneficial as both nations have expressed a shared interest in limiting nuclear proliferation.

    Mar 7, 2018

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) makes a statement as European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini watches, following nuclear talks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, April 2, 2015.

    Journal Article

    Saving Transatlantic Cooperation and the Iran Nuclear Deal: A View from Europe and the United States

    Strong transatlantic cooperation holds the best prospects for achieving the core common objective of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

    Feb 16, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the administration's National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C, December 18, 2017

    Commentary

    Return of Tactical Nuclear Weapons Would Send a Dangerous Signal

    A change in the U.S. nuclear posture to include low-yield nuclear weapons could make nonproliferation goals harder to achieve. But it could also signal a new willingness to consider these weapons as part of a spectrum of warfighting capabilities, rather than as a necessary component of the U.S. deterrence posture.

    Jan 19, 2018

  • Iran nuclear deal word cloud

    Multimedia

    Analyzing New U.S. Iran Policy

    In this Call with the Experts, RAND Middle East experts Dalia Dassa Kaye and Alireza Nader discuss the future of the Iran nuclear deal and reactions to new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran.

    Oct 26, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2017

    Commentary

    Punting on the Iran Nuclear Deal

    President Trump has signaled that he is likely to decline to certify that Iran is adhering to its nuclear deal commitments. The alternatives to the agreement are clear: Iran will develop nuclear weapons, the U.S. will go to war to prevent this, or both.

    Oct 16, 2017

  • Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers deployed to Andersen Air Base, Guam, fly over the Republic of Korea Sept. 21, 2016

    Commentary

    The Rorschach Test of New Nuclear Powers: Analogies for North Korean Command and Control

    Is Pyongyang more like modern Islamabad or Soviet Moscow? The answer must draw on the expertise of scholars of civil-military relations as well as nuclear strategy. Even then analogy is only a starting point—North Korea may be more or less like previous cases, but will certainly be unique.

    Oct 6, 2017

  • Report

    Understanding Conflict Trends: A Review of the Social Science Literature on the Causes of Conflict

    This report explores, through an extensive literature review, whether the extreme rarity of interstate war and reduced incidence of intrastate war represent permanent shifts in world politics or are a temporary aberration.

    Sep 12, 2017

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif greets United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, July 17, 2017

    Commentary

    How to Keep Iran from Becoming the Next North Korea

    The United States brokered an agreement to constrain North Korea's nuclear program 25 years ago, but hard-liners abandoned it with vague intentions of coercing the North into something better. They never did, and now a runaway North Korean program poses real danger. This offers a powerful reason to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.

    Aug 22, 2017

  • Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) are driven during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017

    Multimedia

    Tensions Between North Korea and the U.S.

    RAND experts Bruce Bennett, Andrew Scobell, and J.D. Williams host a conference call with news media discussing the rising tensions between North Korea and the United States. Senior Media Relations Officer Khorshied Samad moderates the call.

    Aug 16, 2017

  • People walk in front of a monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 10, 2017

    Commentary

    How Did North Korea Get Its Nuclear Capabilities So Far So Fast?

    The recent North Korean missile tests and other provocations have sent shock waves through the global national security community and heightened tensions throughout the region. How has North Korea increased its missile capabilities so dramatically in such a short period of time?

    Aug 14, 2017

  • A passerby walks past a street monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 9, 2017

    Commentary

    Contain, Deter, Transform: A Winning Strategy on North Korea

    North Korea's missile tests and reported progress in nuclear warhead design have produced a volatile new urgency in U.S. policy. Contain, deter, and transform isn't a radical solution, but it's one that has worked before. This approach could preserve U.S. interests while avoiding war.

    Aug 9, 2017

  • Multimedia

    North Korea's Continuous Provocations

    In this July 17th, 2017 congressional briefing, Bruce W. Bennett, Senior International/Defense Researcher, discusses North Korea's nuclear missile programs, its changing relationship with China, and implications for U.S. policy.

    Jul 17, 2017