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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  • 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

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif before a meeting in Vienna November 23, 2014

    Commentary

    An Iran Nuclear Deal Is Still Possible, and Here's Why

    The United States and other world powers returned to the negotiating table this week to try to finalize a nuclear agreement with Iran after announcing a seven-month extension in late November. How did the parties get this far?

    Dec 19, 2014

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Congressional Options and Their Likely Consequences for a Nuclear Deal with Iran

    In this December 2014 Congressional Briefing, Larry Hanauer identifies and assesses eight potential courses of action that Congress could take that might either facilitate, hinder, or block implementation of a nuclear deal with Iran.

    Dec 16, 2014

  • Multimedia

    Days After A Deal: Looking Forward

    In this video, RAND researchers Dalia Dassa Kaye, Jeffrey Martini, Alireza Nader, and Lynn Davis discuss how reaching a deal might change Iran's policies in the region and toward the United States, how Iran's neighbors would respond to a deal, and what effect a nuclear deal might have on U.S. policy in the region.

    Dec 15, 2014

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses a news conference after a meeting in Vienna, November 24, 2014

    Commentary

    A Nuclear Extension Can Still Work, but Iran Must Show Flexibility

    The extension of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 is disappointing, but it's better than the alternatives. Now it's time for the Iranian government to show greater flexibility. It may have gained a few months, but in the long run, time is not on its side.

    Nov 26, 2014

  • Multimedia

    Iran Nuclear Negotiations Extended: Reactions and Implications

    RAND researchers Alireza Nader, Dalia Dassa Kaye, and Jeffrey Martini discuss November's extension to nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1. Moderated by Lynn Davis, director of RAND's Washington Office, these experts cover reactions from and implications for Iran, Israel, and the wider region

    Nov 25, 2014

  • Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev meets with U.S. President Barack Obama during a nuclear security summit in April 2010

    Commentary

    Celebrating the Success of Project Sapphire

    Twenty years ago this week, the United States transported over 600 kilograms of at-risk, weapons-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Kazakhstan to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for safekeeping. Kazakhstan had the courage to trust its new relationship with the U.S. to help prevent the proliferation of dangerous material to countries that might seek to build nuclear weapons.

    Nov 21, 2014

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye at a joint news conference in Seoul, April 2014

    Commentary

    N.K. WMDs Carry Catastrophic Potential

    The failure of the United States and South Korea to prevent North Korea from gaining significant quantities of weapons of mass destruction saddles those governments with serious military responsibilities, should North Korea go to war or should its government collapse.

    Nov 19, 2014

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to the crowd in the holy city of Qom, October 2010

    Commentary

    Ignore Flap Over Obama Letter

    While it is not surprising that the alleged letter from President Obama to Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei has upset domestic critics of the nuclear negotiations, the alleged correspondence has also unsettled Israel and Saudi Arabia, which fear a “bad” deal with Iran and even secret collusion between Washington and Tehran. But such concerns seem unfounded.

    Nov 14, 2014

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the 69th U.N. General Assembly on September 29 that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far greater threat to the world than Islamic State militants

    Commentary

    Not to Worry, Israel

    Some Israelis worry that America's fight against the Islamic State is distracting from the Iranian nuclear challenge. But the idea that the U.S. would make additional concessions to Iran in the nuclear negotiations because of the anti-Islamic State group effort is not based on realities on the ground.

    Oct 23, 2014

  • Report

    Report

    Cruise Missile Penaid Nonproliferation: Hindering the Spread of Countermeasures Against Cruise Missile Defenses

    An attacker's missile-borne countermeasures to cruise missile defenses are known as penetration aids, or penaids. This research recommends export controls on penaid-related items under the Missile Technology Control Regime.

    Oct 20, 2014