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

  • Senators Marco Rubio (left) and Jim Risch speak at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, June 13, 2017

    Commentary

    Congress Can Save Arms Control

    The Trump administration is seeking agreements with North Korea and Iran to eliminate their nuclear arms potential. Success may hinge on cooperation between the White House and Congress.

    Nov 27, 2018

  • Senior military officials watch a parade at the main Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018

    Commentary

    How America Can Test North Korea's True Intentions

    While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has suggested he may be prepared to abandon his nuclear ambitions, there has been no proof that he is serious. The United States could take steps to discover Kim's true intentions.

    Nov 26, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon in this undated photo released on November 16, 2018

    Commentary

    Why North Korea Sanctions Relief Is Inappropriate at This Time

    In early 2018, Kim Jong Un signaled that he was ready to negotiate abandoning North Korea's nuclear weapons with the United States. But since then, Pyongyang hasn't taken steps to denuclearize. The DPRK's actions speak louder than its words.

    Nov 26, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walk at the Capella Hotel on the island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018

    Commentary

    North Korean Actions Speak Louder Than Its Words

    Kim Jong Un has regularly promised to denuclearize, but he's been all talk. And this year, North Korea has probably built five to nine more nuclear weapons. There are steps that could make a difference if taken before the North Korean nuclear weapon threat grows any further.

    Oct 11, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump arrives to announce his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Bringing Back Sanctions Will Hurt U.S. Allies and Iran, but Will It Help America?

    What happens if leaving the Iran nuclear deal and applying “maximum pressure” doesn't lead Iran to change its behavior or the regime to collapse? The Trump administration may find that it's much easier to break a deal than to replace it with something better.

    Aug 7, 2018

  • A simple radiation warning design on a concrete wall

    Commentary

    Is Nuclear Terrorism Distracting Attention from More Realistic Threats?

    A nuclear terrorist attack is currently not a realistic threat. It would require an unprecedented level of sophistication from terrorists. The majority of terrorist attacks are conducted with conventional explosives.

    Jul 27, 2018

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, North Korea, May 27, 2018

    Commentary

    Making Sense of South Korea's Cautious Optimism on North Korea

    South Korea is cautiously optimistic that North Korea will denuclearize, and it hopes that this will lead to the normalization of relations. The vast majority of U.S. observers believe that the North is bluffing. Seoul and Washington should continue to strive for transparency about the future of the peninsula.

    Jul 24, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, June 12, 2018

    Multimedia

    What's Next for Korea?

    In this Call with the Experts, RAND's James Dobbins, Bruce Bennett, and Michael Mazarr discuss the historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    Jul 10, 2018

  • A mobile nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (Topol-M 187) in Red Square during a military parade in 2010.

    Multimedia

    Russian Nuclear Forces and Prospects for Arms Control

    An overview of testimony by Austin Long presented before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade on June 21, 2018.

    Jun 21, 2018

  • Russian RS-24 Yars/SS-27 Mod 2 solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missiles drive during the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015

    Testimony

    Russian Nuclear Forces and Prospects for Arms Control

    During the years between the 2010 and 2018 Nuclear Posture Reviews, U.S.-Russia relations have grown increasingly confrontational. How have Russia's nuclear arsenal and strategy developed over the past eight years? And what do these developments mean for arms control?

    Jun 21, 2018

  • Report

    Assessment of the Proliferation of Certain Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems: Response to Section 1276 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017

    RAND Corporation researchers assessed the impact that certain remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) governed by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) have on U.S. national security interests. In this report, they document their findings.

    Jun 14, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, June 12, 2018

    Commentary

    Why This Wasn't Kim's Father's—or Grandfather's—Summit

    This is the third time the United States and North Korea have started down a path toward denuclearization and normalization of relations. The difference now is that Trump and Kim have committed themselves earlier on in the process and more publicly than their predecessors did.

    Jun 13, 2018

  • A journalist reads a local newspaper showing an article on the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un near St. Regis hotel in Singapore, June 11, 2018

    Commentary

    Kim-Trump Summit Rife with Opportunity for U.S.

    The growing costs of planning for Korean military contingencies place a burden on U.S. defense resources. If Tuesday's summit becomes a step toward eventual guarantees against aggression, the U.S. could remove a major Korean conflict from the top rungs of its defense planning roster, freeing resources for other worries.

    Jun 11, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Washington, D.C., May 17, 2018, and in Panmunjom, South Korea, April 27, 2018, respectively

    Commentary

    Six Lessons for Today from Past Summits

    To prepare for possible meetings with his North Korean and Russian counterparts, President Trump can learn lessons from decades of high-profile summits between U.S. presidents and Kremlin leaders.

    Jun 5, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump signs a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, D.C. May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Assessing Transatlantic Fallout After the U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal

    The U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has set off another round of reflection on the state and future of the transatlantic alliance. Though this dispute may not in itself lead to a full breach in the transatlantic relationship, it joins a growing list of sharp disagreements impacting U.S. alliances.

    May 31, 2018

  • 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

  • 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