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

  • A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran, September 27, 2017

    Commentary

    Can Europe Save the Iran Nuclear Deal?

    In mid-January, President Trump threatened to withdraw from the Iran agreement if Europe does not “fix” it within four months. There are viable steps Europe could take to address Trump's concerns about the deal—on missile development, inspections, and sunset clauses. But if the United States withdraws, Europe could still work with other international powers to keep the deal alive.

    Mar 12, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia March 1, 2018

    Commentary

    Could Putin's Speech Signal the Erosion of Nuclear Nonproliferation?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has linked the development of new nuclear weapons capabilities to the United States' refusal to collaborate on arms control. Perhaps before Russia goes down this path, another attempt at dialogue would be beneficial as both nations have expressed a shared interest in limiting nuclear proliferation.

    Mar 7, 2018

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) makes a statement as European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini watches, following nuclear talks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, April 2, 2015.

    Journal Article

    Saving Transatlantic Cooperation and the Iran Nuclear Deal: A View from Europe and the United States

    Strong transatlantic cooperation holds the best prospects for achieving the core common objective of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

    Feb 16, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the administration's National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C, December 18, 2017

    Commentary

    Return of Tactical Nuclear Weapons Would Send a Dangerous Signal

    A change in the U.S. nuclear posture to include low-yield nuclear weapons could make nonproliferation goals harder to achieve. But it could also signal a new willingness to consider these weapons as part of a spectrum of warfighting capabilities, rather than as a necessary component of the U.S. deterrence posture.

    Jan 19, 2018

  • Iran nuclear deal word cloud

    Multimedia

    Analyzing New U.S. Iran Policy

    In this Call with the Experts, RAND Middle East experts Dalia Dassa Kaye and Alireza Nader discuss the future of the Iran nuclear deal and reactions to new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran.

    Oct 26, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2017

    Commentary

    Punting on the Iran Nuclear Deal

    President Trump has signaled that he is likely to decline to certify that Iran is adhering to its nuclear deal commitments. The alternatives to the agreement are clear: Iran will develop nuclear weapons, the U.S. will go to war to prevent this, or both.

    Oct 16, 2017

  • Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers deployed to Andersen Air Base, Guam, fly over the Republic of Korea Sept. 21, 2016

    Commentary

    The Rorschach Test of New Nuclear Powers: Analogies for North Korean Command and Control

    Is Pyongyang more like modern Islamabad or Soviet Moscow? The answer must draw on the expertise of scholars of civil-military relations as well as nuclear strategy. Even then analogy is only a starting point—North Korea may be more or less like previous cases, but will certainly be unique.

    Oct 6, 2017

  • Report

    Report

    Understanding Conflict Trends: A Review of the Social Science Literature on the Causes of Conflict

    This report explores, through an extensive literature review, whether the extreme rarity of interstate war and reduced incidence of intrastate war represent permanent shifts in world politics or are a temporary aberration.

    Sep 12, 2017

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif greets United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, July 17, 2017

    Commentary

    How to Keep Iran from Becoming the Next North Korea

    The United States brokered an agreement to constrain North Korea's nuclear program 25 years ago, but hard-liners abandoned it with vague intentions of coercing the North into something better. They never did, and now a runaway North Korean program poses real danger. This offers a powerful reason to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.

    Aug 22, 2017

  • Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) are driven during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017

    Multimedia

    Tensions Between North Korea and the U.S.

    RAND experts Bruce Bennett, Andrew Scobell, and J.D. Williams host a conference call with news media discussing the rising tensions between North Korea and the United States. Senior Media Relations Officer Khorshied Samad moderates the call.

    Aug 16, 2017

  • People walk in front of a monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 10, 2017

    Commentary

    How Did North Korea Get Its Nuclear Capabilities So Far So Fast?

    The recent North Korean missile tests and other provocations have sent shock waves through the global national security community and heightened tensions throughout the region. How has North Korea increased its missile capabilities so dramatically in such a short period of time?

    Aug 14, 2017

  • A passerby walks past a street monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 9, 2017

    Commentary

    Contain, Deter, Transform: A Winning Strategy on North Korea

    North Korea's missile tests and reported progress in nuclear warhead design have produced a volatile new urgency in U.S. policy. Contain, deter, and transform isn't a radical solution, but it's one that has worked before. This approach could preserve U.S. interests while avoiding war.

    Aug 9, 2017

  • Multimedia

    North Korea's Continuous Provocations

    In this July 17th, 2017 congressional briefing, Bruce W. Bennett, Senior International/Defense Researcher, discusses North Korea's nuclear missile programs, its changing relationship with China, and implications for U.S. policy.

    Jul 17, 2017

  • People watch a huge screen showing the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by KCNA, July 5, 2017.

    Commentary

    A Surgical Strike Against North Korea? Not a Viable Option

    North Korea's July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit American soil has renewed talk of military intervention. But an effective limited military strike with minimal collateral damage and no escalation simply won't work.

    Jul 14, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks to journalists following a live nationwide broadcast in Moscow, June 15, 2017

    Report

    Strengthening Strategic Stability with Russia

    Strategic stability between the United States and Russia is eroding, but the two countries still share a deep interest in avoiding nuclear war. Strengthening stability will be challenging. Meaningful progress will require courage and sacrifices on both sides.

    Jul 7, 2017

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    Security Tensions in Northeast Asia

    In this Events @ RAND podcast, RAND's Bruce Bennett, an expert in Northeast Asian military issues, discusses efforts by the U.S., its allies, and China to defuse the current situation and halt North Korea's development of nuclear weapons.

    Jun 1, 2017

  • People pass a large picture of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the late leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, February 11, 2016

    Report

    Iranian Domestic Issues Could Challenge the Nuclear Deal

    The Iran nuclear agreement has proven successful so far, but challenges from within Iran may emerge. The deal could be affected by factional divisions in Iran, the death of the supreme leader, or heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

    May 10, 2017

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Domestic Factors Could Accelerate the Evolution of China's Nuclear Posture

    This brief discusses how domestic factors could influence China's evolving nuclear deterrent.

    Apr 20, 2017

  • Military vehicles carrying DF-26 ballistic missiles travel past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Beijing, September 3, 2015

    Report

    China's Evolving Approach to Nuclear Deterrence

    China's nuclear posture has been consistent since 1964. But in recent years, China has increased the numbers of its missiles and warheads and improved the quality of its force. Understanding its future nuclear direction is critical to shaping U.S. strategy.

    Mar 15, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Moscow, Russia February 23, 2017

    Commentary

    How to Partner with Putin

    Improving relations with Russia is a worthy goal. President Donald Trump could seek to partner with Moscow on some issues, like North Korea, while keeping up heat on others, such as aggression in Ukraine.

    Mar 4, 2017