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.

  • The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a mausoleum in Pyongyang, North Korea, photo by narvikk/iStock

    Report

    How Does North Korea Evade Sanctions?

    Sep 23, 2021

    The United Nations has imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea after each of the six nuclear weapons tests that it conducted between 2009 and 2016. Enforcement has been mixed, and North Korea has become adept at several techniques to evade sanctions.

  • Russian Mi-28N helicopters fly in formation at the Dubrovichi range near Ryazan, Russia, August 2, 2015, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Content

    Where Russia Markets and Sells Advanced Conventional Weapons

    Jun 11, 2021

    Russia uses arms exports to further relations with other countries, influence their political and military leaders, and further its broader foreign and defense policy goals. A series of maps show the extent of its marketing, negotiating, and sales of key weapons systems.

Explore Arms Proliferation and Control

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan addresses a news conference after his release on October 10

    Commentary

    Libya Needs Outside Help to Avoid Perpetual War

    If steps are not taken to get control of security, there is little hope for Libya's future. Qaddafi's fateful warning that Libya would become a “Somalia on the Mediterranean” without him could come true. The investment that NATO and its partners made in toppling Qaddafi would then be almost entirely wasted.

    Oct 11, 2013

  • A titan missle inside an underground silo

    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 22, 2013

  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visits a newly built arcade at the amusement house of the Rungna People's Pleasure Park

    Blog

    North Korea's Coming Collapse

    The North Korean government could collapse at any time, setting off a humanitarian disaster of historic proportions, RAND senior defense analyst Bruce Bennett told a gathering of journalists in Washington.

    Sep 20, 2013

  • News Release

    News Release

    U.S., Republic of Korea and Allies Should Prepare for Eventual Collapse of North Korean Government

    Like the collapse of East Germany, the collapse of North Korea could occur suddenly and with little warning. But a North Korean collapse could be far more dangerous and disastrous than the actual collapse of East Germany, especially given the inadequate preparations for it.

    Sep 19, 2013

  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visits a newly built arcade at the amusement house of the Rungna People's Pleasure Park

    Report

    U.S., ROK, and Allies Should Prepare for Eventual Collapse of North Korean Government

    Like the collapse of East Germany, the collapse of North Korea could occur suddenly and with little warning. But a North Korean collapse could be far more dangerous and disastrous than the actual collapse of East Germany, especially given the inadequate preparations for it.

    Sep 19, 2013

  • Syrian Americans rally in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime and against proposed U.S. military action against Syria

    Commentary

    A Smarter Way to Stop Syria WMD Attacks

    President Obama made a strong case that the U.S. should take the lead in punishing the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons and actively enforce the near-global ban on these weapons. Now, the possibility of a diplomatic solution to this problem offers an opportunity to improve the request for the authorization of force currently before Congress.

    Sep 19, 2013

  • U.N. chemical weapons investigation team in Damascus

    Commentary

    US Should Keep Focus on Syria, Not Iran

    Those arguing for US-led airstrikes based on the premise of preventing a precedent with Iran would only make it easier for Iran and Syria to paint military action against the brutal Assad regime as an Israeli-inspired scheme rather than a regionally and internationally supported option, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Sep 6, 2013

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during an event to mark Nawroz, the Persian New Year, in Kabul March 27, 2014

    Commentary

    A Last Chance for Iran's Pragmatists

    Rouhani's new government is not pro-Western by any stretch of the imagination, writes Alireza Nader. But its political interests and Iran's current predicament provide a unique opportunity to solve the nuclear crisis peacefully.

    Aug 12, 2013

  • A 2009 rally in support of Mir Hussein Mousavi before he was put on house arrest.

    Commentary

    Will Iran's Opposition Leaders Be Released?

    The resolution of Iran's nuclear crisis does not only depend on U.S.-Iranian relations, but also on other factors including the fate of three Iranian prisoners.

    Aug 2, 2013

  • Hassan Rouhani giving a speech

    Commentary

    Before Piling on New Sanctions, Give Rouhani a Chance

    The imposition of sanction after sanction without a clear diplomatic approach may convince Iran's leadership that the United States seeks regime implosion and overthrow rather than a solution to the nuclear crisis, write Alireza Nader and Colin H. Kahl.

    Jun 27, 2013

  • People voting in 2013 Iran's election

    Testimony

    Rouhani's Election: Regime Retrenchment in the Face of Pressure

    Iran's foreign policy may be ultimately controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and it will not change dramatically. But newly elected president Hassan Rouhani will nevertheless have an opportunity to reshape Iran's position on the nuclear program, as he will appoint Iran's nuclear negotiator and other key figures.

    Jun 18, 2013

  • the Shrine of the Tomb of Imam Reza

    Commentary

    Think Again: A Nuclear Iran

    When contemplating the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, we should all be grateful that notions of martyrdom and apocalyptic beliefs don't have a significant pull on Iranian decision-making, writes Alireza Nader.

    May 29, 2013

  • U.S. Army Soldiers put their gas masks on for a simulated chemical attack during a training mission near Camp Ramadi, Iraq

    Commentary

    Chemical Weapons in Syria: What Could the U.S. Do About Them?

    The combined lessons of the attack and disarmament of Iraq's chemical weapons in the First Gulf War suggest that chemical weapons are hard to find and destroy, writes James Quinlivan. Lots can survive even a sustained attack.

    May 21, 2013

  • Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili at a May 2013 news conference

    Report

    Iran After the Bomb: How Would a Nuclear-Armed Tehran Behave?

    Iran may feel more confident and gain a sense of prestige from a nuclear capability, but other factors, such as the regional geopolitical environment and Iran’s political, military, and economic capabilities, will have a greater bearing on Iranian calculations.

    May 17, 2013