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 23, 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

    A Surprise Out of Zion? Case Studies in Israel's Decisions on Whether to Alert the United States to Preemptive and Preventive Strikes, from Suez to the Syrian Nuclear Reactor

    Examines four key historical cases in which Israeli prime ministers chose preemptive or preventive military strikes and had to decide whether to notify or consult with the United States.

    Jun 29, 2015

  • Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani talks with Royal Saudi Land Forces Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud at a joint military exercise in Mangla, Pakistan, October 6, 2011

    Commentary

    What Pakistan and Saudi Arabia Want from Each Other

    Whatever overlapping interests they may have in dangerous groups like Lashkar-e Taiba, the Saudis and Pakistanis have much bigger reasons for seeking each other's friendship. These reasons may be largely transactional, but the transaction has been a mutually beneficial one for nearly 40 years.

    Jun 17, 2015

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

    Essay

    Nuclear Negotiations with Iran: Looking Ahead

    As world leaders work to piece together a nuclear deal with Iran, RAND experts asked, What would change on the day after a final deal? Their analysis helps clarify what a nuclear deal would mean for the United States, the region, and the world.

    May 4, 2015

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: May-June 2015

    This issue of RAND Review reports on smart-grid technologies, the nuclear deal with Iran, the education crisis among Syrian children, diversity in the biomedical scientific workforce, and recent philanthropic gifts to RAND.

    May 4, 2015

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 22, 2014

    Commentary

    Why the United States Needs to Be Patient with Iran

    No one should expect miracles after a nuclear deal. Khamenei and his system will not change so easily. But Iranians have been patient. The United States should be as well.

    Apr 20, 2015

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and staff watch a tablet in Lausanne, Switzerland as President Barack Obama addresses the status of the Iran nuclear talks, April 2, 2015

    Commentary

    Why the Nuclear Deal Won't Change U.S. Regional Politics

    The United States can't wait for a final nuclear deal with Iran to begin thinking through how to manage its aftermath. The challenges ahead are already clear. Washington should prepare for them by setting aside old formulas that have failed to advance stability.

    Apr 10, 2015

  • Soldiers at Suwon Air Base, South Korea, finish a comprehensive air defense artillery field training exercise

    Commentary

    To Know the Future of Biological Weapons, Look to the Past

    A panel chaired by former Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Gov. Tom Ridge will review U.S. policy on biodefense. Looking back to the end of the U.S. offensive biological warfare program would provide valuable lessons.

    Apr 10, 2015

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks after nuclear talks with Iran in Lausanne, Switzerland, April 2, 2015

    Q&A

    RAND Experts Q&A on the Iran Nuclear Framework

    President Barack Obama hailed last week's framework for an Iranian nuclear accord as a “historic understanding,” and there was celebration in Iran, but many challenges remain.

    Apr 6, 2015

  • U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi before resuming talks over Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne, March 16, 2015

    Commentary

    Don't Scare Off Investors from Iran

    Non-American corporations must decide whether the benefits of pursuing business opportunities in Iran outweigh the risks, and they will likely stay away as long as Congress keeps debating the imposition of new sanctions. Their reluctance to invest could prevent Iran from seeing the economic benefits of a nuclear deal.

    Mar 27, 2015

  • Multimedia

    Call with the Experts: Update on Iran Nuclear Negotiations

    In this excerpt from an exclusive RAND Policy Circle Call, RAND experts discuss the latest developments in a nuclear deal with Iran.

    Mar 26, 2015

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius talk after Hammond's statement about recent negotiations over Iran's nuclear program in London on March 21, 2015

    Commentary

    Grounds for Cautious Optimism on an Iran Nuclear Deal

    Sufficient information is available to be optimistic about the characteristics of the framework accord anticipated by the end of this month. Many Americans might be surprised to learn what has already been accomplished under the interim agreement that laid the groundwork for the comprehensive deal now being negotiated.

    Mar 26, 2015

  • NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman works outside the International Space Station's Quest airlock in October 2014

    Commentary

    Don't Worry About Russia Backing Away from Space and WMD Cooperation

    Two symbols of U.S.-Russian cooperation are nearing the end of their life expectancies, the International Space Station and the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. But both stand as remarkable milestones of achievement and reminders of what can be accomplished when nations put aside political differences for the betterment of humanity.

    Feb 27, 2015

  • An MQ-9 Reaper sits on a ramp in Afghanistan

    Commentary

    Armed Drone Myth 3: Global Proliferation Demands Blanket Restrictions on Sales

    More than 70 countries have acquired drones of different classes and for different purposes. However, the number of countries actually developing “armed” drones is far smaller. And smaller still is the number of those countries developing long-range armed systems.

    Feb 19, 2015

  • An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft takes off from Joint Base Balad, Iraq

    Commentary

    Armed Drone Myth 2: It's Counterproductive to Develop International Norms

    The challenge in establishing international norms for armed drones will be to define rules that preserve the rights of countries to use them in legitimate ways against legitimate threats (senior al Qaeda or Islamic State terrorists) while constraining illegitimate uses (political dissidents).

    Feb 18, 2015

  • An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle at Balad Air Base, Iraq

    Project

    Dispelling Myths About Armed Drones

    Armed drones have raised hopes among some for a transformational weapon to use against U.S. adversaries, and raised concerns among others about proliferation and misuse. However, drones are fundamentally misunderstood; many of the myths about them can be dispelled.

    Feb 16, 2015

  • A military policeman looks through binoculars before the official groundbreaking ceremony of the site for the U.S. Aegis Ashore missile defense facility east of Bucharest, October 28, 2013

    Report

    Defending Against Iranian Missile Threats Without Diluting the Russian Deterrent

    In 2013, the U.S. opted to cancel Phase 4 of its European Phased Adaptive Approach missile defense system. Russia had cited it as a threat to its nuclear deterrent. The restructured U.S. system remains capable of reaching Iranian missiles without posing a threat to Russia's missile forces.

    Feb 13, 2015

  • Army and police officers loyal to the Iran-backed Houthi movement shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration to show support in Sanaa, January 23, 2015

    Commentary

    Relax, Iran Is Not Taking Over the Middle East

    Nuclear negotiations should not be held hostage to all of the things Iran may be doing right or wrong. The conflicts in the Middle East are much more complex than “Iran on the march” theories would have us believe.

    Feb 11, 2015

  • U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomes newly elected Republican senators, November 12, 2014

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran: Congress's Role in Implementing a Nuclear Agreement

    The president has extensive authority under the law to provide sanctions relief to Iran as part of a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Nevertheless, Congress can take a range of steps to facilitate, hinder, or even block the executive branch's efforts.

    Feb 2, 2015

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at UN headquarters, April 27, 2015

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran: Implications for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime

    A final nuclear deal with Iran would have implications for the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Slowing or stopping Iran's nuclear development is an important nonproliferation accomplishment, but the international community will need to find ways to mitigate some of the deal's negative consequences.

    Feb 2, 2015

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during a news conference at the 69th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 26, 2014

    Commentary

    Congress Should Delay New Iran Sanctions

    The new Congress is racing to pass legislation that would institute new sanctions on Iran during ongoing nuclear negotiations. This undermines U.S. efforts to peacefully eliminate the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

    Jan 23, 2015