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

  • Report

    The Nature of the Chinese-Iranian Partnership and the Challenges It Poses for the U.S.

    The partnership between China and Iran presents challenges to U.S. interests, including dissuading Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. An analysis of the factors driving Chinese-Iranian cooperation offers policy options for influencing this partnership to meet U.S. objectives.

    May 2, 2012

  • News Release

    Book by Noted Expert Proposes a Renaissance of Thought on Nuclear Deterrence for Today's Strategic Environment

    A new book by the late French scholar Thérèse Delpech provides a critical review and update of nuclear deterrence theory, focusing a critical eye on nuclear issues during the Cold War, examining the lessons of past nuclear crises, and outlining ways in which these lessons apply to major nuclear powers and nuclear pretenders today.

    Apr 17, 2012

  • Report

    Book by Noted Expert Proposes a Renaissance of Thought on Nuclear Deterrence for Today's Strategic Environment

    A new book by the late French scholar Thérèse Delpech provides a critical review and update of nuclear deterrence theory, focusing a critical eye on nuclear issues during the Cold War, examining the lessons of past nuclear crises, and outlining ways in which these lessons apply to major nuclear powers and nuclear pretenders today.

    Mar 27, 2012

  • Iran's Navy commander Habibollah Sayyari points from a naval ship during Velayat-90 war game on Sea of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran, January 1, 2012

    Commentary

    Iran's Self-Destructive Gamble

    For all its bluster, the Iranian regime is more vulnerable than at any time in its 32-year history. Internally, Iran is constrained by deep political divisions, civil strife and a woeful economy, write Alireza Nader and James Dobbins.

    Jan 6, 2012

  • News Release

    Growing Rivalry Between Israel and Iran Poses Danger of Military Conflict

    The United States should engage in activities that increase understanding about how a deterrence relationship between Israel and Iran may evolve, and encourage direct communication between Israelis and Iranians through informal diplomatic channels.

    Jan 5, 2012

  • Report

    Growing Rivalry Between Israel and Iran Poses Danger of Military Conflict

    The United States should engage in activities that increase understanding about how a deterrence relationship between Israel and Iran may evolve, and encourage direct communication between Israelis and Iranians through informal diplomatic channels.

    Jan 5, 2012

  • Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) talks to Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal at the start of a European Union foreign ministers meeting at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels, December 1, 2011

    Commentary

    Dissuading Iran from the Bomb and Avoiding War

    By refusing to face more squarely the probability that Iran will eventually acquire a nuclear weapons capability, the American and Israeli governments actually reduce their ability to dissuade Iran from crossing that threshold, writes James Dobbins.

    Dec 2, 2011

  • News Release

    U.S. Should Reexamine Policy Options for Dealing with an Iran on the Nuclear Threshold

    An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities by the United States or Israel would make it more, not less difficult to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions. The sympathy aroused for Iran would make containment of Iranian influence much more difficult for Israel, for the U.S., and for the Arab regimes currently allied with Washington.

    Nov 28, 2011

  • Report

    U.S. Should Reexamine Policy Options for Dealing with an Iran on the Nuclear Threshold

    An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities by the United States or Israel would make it more, not less difficult to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions. The sympathy aroused for Iran would make containment of Iranian influence much more difficult for Israel, for the U.S., and for the Arab regimes currently allied with Washington.

    Nov 28, 2011

  • Commentary

    An Attack Would Only Strengthen Iran's Influence

    Reaction to a strike against Iran among neighboring populations would be almost uniformly hostile. The sympathy thereby aroused for Iran would make containment of Iranian influence much more difficult for Israel, for the U.S., and for the Arab regimes currently allied with Washington, writes James Dobbins.

    Nov 16, 2011

  • Report

    Assessing the Effectiveness of the International Counterproliferation Program

    Addressing the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction requires interagency and international cooperation. This report demonstrates how one assessment framework can be applied to security cooperation programs.

    Sep 12, 2011

  • Report

    Early Observations on Possible Defenses by the Emerging Threat Agent Project

    Gaps in defenses against chemical and biological weapon agents can pose a serious risk to U.S. military operations. This paper summarizes early expert observations about the threat and possible responses.

    Jan 19, 2011

  • Commentary

    Alternative to Futile Negotiations with N.K.

    Clearly, it's time for a new strategy, one that North Korea has been loathe to discuss: hasten Korean unification under South Korea's leadership, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Nov 23, 2010

  • Commentary

    This May Be a Key Year, but Alas Not a Decisive One

    As observers laud the new START treaty for bringing back a framework that will make substantial U.S. and Russian nuclear reductions possible, they must recognise that lowering numbers is not the same as stripping nuclear weapons of their values, writes Olga Oliker.

    Aug 1, 2010

  • Report

    Simple Models to Explore Deterrence and More General Influence in the War with al-Qaeda

    Simple, conceptual models can be used to help guide thinking about how to deter or to otherwise influence potential, actual, or disengaging terrorists and the many people who support their organizations directly or indirectly.

    Jul 16, 2010

  • Report

    Local Communities in Afghanistan Can Play Crucial Role in Improving Security

    The Afghan government and NATO can improve security in Afghanistan by leveraging traditional policing institutions in rural villages and mobilizing the population against insurgents. However, action needs to happen quickly to take advantage of a growing amount of local resistance against the Taliban across Afghanistan.

    Jul 9, 2010

  • Report

    Uncertainties in the North Korean Nuclear Threat

    North Korea has denied the United States information about its nuclear weapon program, resulting in a high degree of uncertainty about the number and character of its nuclear weapons, how they might be used, and what impact they might have.

    May 24, 2010

  • Report

    Building Security in the Persian Gulf

    The U.S. must determine how best to promote long-term security and stability in the Persian Gulf region while seeking to reduce the risks and costs imposed by its role as a permanent regional power—particularly vis-à-vis Iraq's future, the role of Iran, asymmetric threats, regional tensions, and the roles of other external actors.

    May 18, 2010

  • Commentary

    Iran's Counter-Strike

    Iran's attempt to join the world's nuclear-weapons club is setting the stage for a military confrontation. Israel's view on the matter is clear—a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to its existence. What will Iran do in the wake of an Israeli attack that Iran will almost certainly assume has U.S. support, asks David E. Johnson.

    Feb 25, 2010

  • Commentary

    Punish Iran's Rulers, Not Its People

    As the potential for a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program wanes, the U.S. must consider what steps might dissuade Tehran from continuing its nuclear program without punishing the Iranian people or strengthening those who rule over them, chiefly the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, writes Alireza Nader.

    Dec 14, 2009