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

  • 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

  • nuclear war game maze

    Commentary

    Thinking Through Options on North Korea

    Obviously it will not always be possible to avoid the use of force and the risk of escalation. But the US and its allies cannot take the possibility of military responses against nuclear regional adversaries off the table without limiting its own strategic options, eroding its influence, and threatening its security.

    May 3, 2013

  • Marines practicing a chemical, biological, or radiological attack

    Commentary

    The Syrian Chemical Weapons Conundrum

    Dealing with chemical weapons in Syria is a complicated and dangerous task, but nowhere near the challenge of securing a nuclear arsenal in a country consumed by crisis, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 1, 2013

  • ROK guards in the DMZ

    Commentary

    A Delicate Deterrence Dance with North Korea

    How does Washington signal tenacity to a pugnacious Pyongyang and demonstrate resolve to a jittery Seoul, all without inadvertently triggering an escalatory spiral?

    Apr 11, 2013

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Kerry and Syrian Opposition Council Chairman Mouaz al-Khatib during Kerry's 2013 Middle East visit

    Commentary

    The Risks of an Excess of Caution in Syria

    Syria is looking more like a collapsed state every day. Nearly a million people have now fled Syria for safety abroad. Meanwhile, the influence of extremist groups, such as the al Nusrah Front, continues to grow as these groups slip into the areas vacated by the Syrian state, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Mar 29, 2013

  • Iranian people living in France protested the 2009 the reelection of Ahmadinejad and the irregularities in the vote count for his main opponent, the reformist Moussavi.

    Commentary

    Iran's Elections to End All Elections

    The June election will not be about mobilizing the Iranian public. It is instead the culmination of a years-long evolution in Iranian politics: the transformation of the Islamic Republic from a mildly representative theocracy into a Revolutionary Guards-controlled kleptocracy, writes Alireza Nader.

    Mar 7, 2013

  • North Korean soldiers attend a rally celebrating the country's third nuclear test at the Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang, February 14, 2013

    Commentary

    North Korea's Third Nuclear Test: A Sign of Weakness, Not Strength

    The ROK and the United States should take actions to deter subsequent North Korean provocations while punishing the country for its nuclear weapon test. Such actions could convince it that the ROK/U.S. are serious and able to impose high costs, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Feb 15, 2013

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev shake hands after signing the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II) at Prague Castle in Prague, April 8, 2010

    Commentary

    The Challenge of Securing Russian Cooperation in Achieving Further Nuclear Reductions

    Unless the Obama administration can design a strategy that can engage the Russians despite their preconceptions, which have been consistently stated in diplomatic encounters over the past two years, Russia is unlikely to agree to an informal agreement on further reductions, writes Lowell Schwartz.

    Feb 13, 2013

  • Israeli and Iranian flags, weapons, fire

    Commentary

    Khamenei's Mounting Pressures

    Khamenei's mounting pressures may compel him to be more flexible on the nuclear program, writes Alireza Nader. Otherwise, he will face greater sanctions, more internal political opposition, and, possibly, the wrath of his own people.

    Feb 11, 2013

  • Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili listens to a reporter's question during a news conference in New Delhi January 4, 2013

    Q&A

    What Is Iran's Strategy at New Talks?

    Iran is still willing to give diplomacy a chance after a seven-month hiatus, as demonstrated by the announcement of new talks. But Tehran wants the P5+1 to make the first move, writes Alireza Nader.

    Feb 5, 2013

  • News Release

    News Release

    RAND Stanton Research Fellows Issue New Studies Examining Nuclear Security Issues

    Three Stanton Nuclear Security Fellows at the RAND Corporation—Robert Reardon, Markus Schiller, and David Kearn—have published new research examining nuclear security issues.

    Oct 2, 2012

  • Report

    Report

    Facing the Missile Challenge: U.S. Strategy and the Future of the INF Treaty

    Report assesses whether the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty continues to serve America's national interests, or whether adherence unduly constrains the U.S. ability to effectively respond to emerging security threats.

    Sep 27, 2012

  • Marines and sailors participate in an outdoor gas exercise in full protective gear

    Commentary

    Syria's Chemical Weapons, and Beyond

    Every possible effort toward peaceful resolution and proliferation avoidance, even to the extent of offering safe passage and immunity to reprehensible characters in order to buy the safe transfer and control of such materials, is worth consideration, write James T. Quinlivan and Bruce W. Bennett.

    Jul 26, 2012

  • Russian (L and R) and Iranian operators monitor the nuclear power plant unit in Bushehr, about 1,215 km (755 miles) south of Tehran, November 30, 2009

    Blog

    Defusing Iran's Nuclear Threat

    As nuclear negotiations with Iran resume, they might produce an agreement on interim steps to limit Iranian enrichment and a temporary hold on some international sanctions.

    Jun 14, 2012

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    How to Defuse Iran's Nuclear Threat: Bolster Diplomacy, Israeli Security, and the Iranian Citizenry

    In this June 2012 Congressional Briefing, a panel of RAND experts—Lynn Davis, James Dobbins, and Alireza Nader—discuss nuclear negotiations and the long-term prospects for Iranian relations with Israel and the United States.

    Jun 7, 2012

  • Fabric flags of China and Iran

    Blog

    Examining the Relationship Between China and Iran

    The partnership between China and Iran presents challenges to U.S. interests, including dissuading Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

    May 3, 2012

  • Report

    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

    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

    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