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.

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  • 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

    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 4, 2012

  • Report

    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 4, 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

    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

    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

  • :An Iranian cleric talks to students who are forming a human chain around the Uranium Conversion Facility to show their support for Iran's nuclear programme in Isfahan, Iran, November 15, 2011, photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

    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

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    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

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    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

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    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

    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

    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

    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

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Finding a Solution to Iran

    The revelation of a secret nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom, and the likely existence of other advanced facilities across Iran, makes more urgent the need for a quick solution to the nuclear impasse, writes Alireza Nader.

    Sep 30, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Limited Options: Deterring North Korea and Iran

    The question today is no longer whether the United States can still prevent North Korea and Iran from emerging as nuclear-armed regional adversaries, but instead, how to prevent them from being empowered by their nuclear weapons. This won't be easy, writes Lowell H. Schwartz.

    Aug 14, 2009

  • Report

    Report

    Dangerous But Not Omnipotent: Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East

    Iran's rise as a regional power presents a key foreign policy and security challenge to the United States, but its reach may be more limited than Western conventional wisdom suggests. U.S. strategy should work to exploit existing barriers to Iran's harmful activities, while simultaneously seeking areas of engagement.

    Apr 14, 2009