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?

    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.

    Sep 23, 2021

  • 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

    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.

    Jun 11, 2021

Explore Arms Proliferation and Control

  • Report

    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

    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

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Asia's Nonproliferation Laggards: China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia

    The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction ranks as one of the biggest challenges facing the Obama administration. Luckily, Mr. Obama has a tool to combat this threat, in the form of the Proliferation Security Initiative.... The trick now will be to convince key Asian countries to participate, writes Charles Wolf Jr.

    Feb 9, 2009

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    Report

    Enhancement by Enlargement: The Proliferation Security Initiative

    The Proliferation Security Initiative consists of 91 countries seeking to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction between states or non-state actors that would thereby pose a serious threat to global or regional security. This report assesses the perspectives of the five

    Nov 21, 2008

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Nuclear-Armed Regional Adversaries: How Deterrable Are They Likely to Be?

    This research brief describes a study of nuclear-armed regional adversaries, which suggests that U.S. policymakers and commanders will want to field improved capabilities that can prevent (rather than deter) an enemy's use of nuclear weapons.

    Jul 18, 2008

  • Report

    Report

    Dangerous Thresholds: Managing Escalation in the 21st Century

    Historical examples and the analysis of two modified Delphi exercises augment an examination of approaches to escalation management within the demands of today’s security environment and its attendant threats involving not only long-standing nuclear powers, but also insurgent groups and terrorists.

    Jul 8, 2008

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    The Time is Right to Bring Hezbollah to Negotiating Table

    The U.S. should capitalize on current Lebanese anti-Hezbollah sentiment and push Israel to address Hezbollah's “four bleeding wounds” in order to advance global diplomatic pressure on the group to disarm.

    Jun 6, 2008

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    A New National Strategy for Korea: North Korea Threats Require Deterrence, Reconciliation

    Over the last five years, the South Korean government has tried to downplay the military threat posed by North Korea. However North Korea still poses a serious military threat to South Korea, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Mar 13, 2008

  • nuclear war game maze

    Report

    The Challenge of Nuclear-Armed Regional Adversaries

    North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon in 2006 shows that such weapons are within reach of determined regional powers. Thus, defense planners in the United States and elsewhere must begin now to confront the new security challenges posed by nuclear-armed regional adversaries.

    Mar 10, 2008

  • Commercial Book

    Commercial Book

    Strategy in the Missile Age

    Classic work from 1959 that discusses the origins of air power, its cornerstone position in the evolution of Cold War era nuclear strategy, and its treatment of preventive and preemptive attacks, deterrence, and the economics of strategy.

    Oct 8, 2007

  • Report

    Report

    International Cooperation Needed to Keep Terrorists from Gaining Advanced Weapons

    International cooperation is needed to keep a new generation of advanced conventional weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. Efforts should focus on making security forces aware of the emerging threats and developing safeguards for the most potent of the weapons.

    Aug 27, 2007

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Rebuilding Arms Control

    U.S. actions have now freed Russia to take unilateral steps of its own. Moreover, the American policy has given Russia a ready-made justification for abrogating agreements that it now finds onerous, following the precedent set by the United States, write F. Stephen Larrabee and David E. Mosher.

    Aug 10, 2007

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Iran's Covert War in Iraq

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Iran's Covert War in Iraq, in the Washington Times.

    Mar 16, 2007

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    N Korea Policy Options

    Published commentary by RAND staff: N Korea Policy Options, in United Press International.

    Nov 28, 2006

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Safer, But Not Safe

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Safer, But Not Safe, in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Sep 10, 2006