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 24, 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

  • Multimedia

    The Days After a Deal: Iran, Its Neighbors, and U.S. Policy Following a Nuclear Agreement

    On April 3, 2014, the RAND Corporation held a half-day conference in its Washington office addressing "The Days After a Deal: Iran, its Neighbors, and U.S. Policy Following a Nuclear Agreement." As nuclear negotiations with Iran approach a deadline for a final deal this summer, the RAND conference looked ahead at some of the critical "day after" questions following a potential nuclear agreement.

    Apr 17, 2014

  • A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator on its final approach to Indian Springs Auxiliary Field in Nevada

    Report

    Armed and Dangerous? UAVs and U.S. Security

    While armed drones are not truly transformative weapons, they do offer the United States some significant advantages, particularly against enemies that lack air defenses. How the United States uses these weapons today and into the future will be important in shaping a broader set of international norms that discourage their misuse by others.

    Apr 7, 2014

  • General David Petraeus, Stephen Hadley, and David Ignatius

    Blog

    RAND Conference: Iran in the Days After a Nuclear Deal

    Expressing optimism that a deal to end Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons could succeed, experts said during a panel discussion at RAND that such an agreement could open the door to a new era for Iran, free of international sanctions but still cautious of relations with the U.S.

    Apr 3, 2014

  • Syrian refugees wave flags during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

    Multimedia

    Navigating Turmoil in the Middle East

    Listen in on this joint RAND-Wilson Center panel discussion on new and ongoing U.S. foreign policy challenges in the Middle East.

    Mar 18, 2014

  • Report

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

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

    Feb 26, 2014

  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing to learn about the ICBM mission and the people who operate, maintain, secure, and support the Minuteman III weapon system

    Commentary

    America's New Missile Gap

    With the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military refocused on the non-nuclear realm. In most cases, military professionals moved seamlessly into this realm, but the land-based missileers lacked the option to shift their focus.

    Feb 25, 2014

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses an international assembly of reporters upon arriving in Geneva

    Commentary

    The Geneva Blame Game

    Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Britain, France, China, and Russia plus Germany) came tantalizingly close to reaching a nuclear deal this past weekend in Geneva, but the talks ended without an agreement. Although both Iran and the United States expressed optimism that much was achieved, a blame game between the different players soon ensued.

    Nov 15, 2013

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    Commentary

    A Different Israeli Take on Iran

    An agreement did not come out of last week's talks. But when the participants resume negotiations later this month, they should keep one thing in mind: Not all Israelis are as alarmed about a potential deal as Netanyahu. Despite Netanyahu's hard line, many Israelis believe diplomacy can work.

    Nov 12, 2013

  • European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before the start of two days of nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013

    Commentary

    Pause on Additional Iran Sanctions Crucial to Negotiations

    The Nov. 7–8 negotiations between Iran and six world powers (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany) could prove to be a critical point in the Iranian nuclear crisis. New sanctions under consideration by Congress could lead to a weakening of the overall U.S. position.

    Nov 6, 2013

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to the media after a meeting of foreign ministers at the U.N. Headquarters in New York September 26, 2013

    Commentary

    Zero-Sum Enrichment

    Sanctions have taken a heavy toll on the Iranian economy, and the Islamic Republic may finally be motivated to take steps to rein in its nuclear program, including accepting limits on uranium enrichment, in exchange for lessening the pressure.

    Oct 14, 2013

  • Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan addresses a news conference after his release on October 10

    Commentary

    Libya Needs Outside Help to Avoid Perpetual War

    If steps are not taken to get control of security, there is little hope for Libya's future. Qaddafi's fateful warning that Libya would become a “Somalia on the Mediterranean” without him could come true. The investment that NATO and its partners made in toppling Qaddafi would then be almost entirely wasted.

    Oct 11, 2013

  • A titan missle inside an underground silo

    Blog

    Lynn Davis Interviews Eric Schlosser on Book TV

    As a guest host of Book TV's “After Words,” Lynn Davis spoke to Eric Schlosser about his latest book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.

    Oct 1, 2013

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot in central Tehran June 14, 2013

    Commentary

    Obama Should Take Iran's Overture Seriously

    If his words are any guide, Iran's supreme leader is pivoting to diplomacy. Long an advocate of “resistance” to the United States, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei now praises his new president, Hassan Rouhani, for his administration's “heroic” and “artful” approach toward foreign policy.

    Sep 23, 2013

  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visits a newly built arcade at the amusement house of the Rungna People's Pleasure Park

    Blog

    North Korea's Coming Collapse

    The North Korean government could collapse at any time, setting off a humanitarian disaster of historic proportions, RAND senior defense analyst Bruce Bennett told a gathering of journalists in Washington.

    Sep 20, 2013

  • News Release

    U.S., Republic of Korea and Allies Should Prepare for Eventual Collapse of North Korean Government

    Like the collapse of East Germany, the collapse of North Korea could occur suddenly and with little warning. But a North Korean collapse could be far more dangerous and disastrous than the actual collapse of East Germany, especially given the inadequate preparations for it.

    Sep 19, 2013

  • Syrian Americans rally in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime and against proposed U.S. military action against Syria

    Commentary

    A Smarter Way to Stop Syria WMD Attacks

    President Obama made a strong case that the U.S. should take the lead in punishing the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons and actively enforce the near-global ban on these weapons. Now, the possibility of a diplomatic solution to this problem offers an opportunity to improve the request for the authorization of force currently before Congress.

    Sep 19, 2013

  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visits a newly built arcade at the amusement house of the Rungna People's Pleasure Park

    Report

    U.S., ROK, and Allies Should Prepare for Eventual Collapse of North Korean Government

    Like the collapse of East Germany, the collapse of North Korea could occur suddenly and with little warning. But a North Korean collapse could be far more dangerous and disastrous than the actual collapse of East Germany, especially given the inadequate preparations for it.

    Sep 19, 2013

  • U.N. chemical weapons investigation team in Damascus

    Commentary

    US Should Keep Focus on Syria, Not Iran

    Those arguing for US-led airstrikes based on the premise of preventing a precedent with Iran would only make it easier for Iran and Syria to paint military action against the brutal Assad regime as an Israeli-inspired scheme rather than a regionally and internationally supported option, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Sep 6, 2013

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during an event to mark Nawroz, the Persian New Year, in Kabul March 27, 2014

    Commentary

    A Last Chance for Iran's Pragmatists

    Rouhani's new government is not pro-Western by any stretch of the imagination, writes Alireza Nader. But its political interests and Iran's current predicament provide a unique opportunity to solve the nuclear crisis peacefully.

    Aug 12, 2013

  • A 2009 rally in support of Mir Hussein Mousavi before he was put on house arrest.

    Commentary

    Will Iran's Opposition Leaders Be Released?

    The resolution of Iran's nuclear crisis does not only depend on U.S.-Iranian relations, but also on other factors including the fate of three Iranian prisoners.

    Aug 2, 2013