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.

Explore Arms Proliferation and Control

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov shake hands at a news conference in Moscow, August 29, 2014

    Commentary

    Why Iran Can't Walk Away from Nuclear Talks So Easily

    If the public inflexibility of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif isn't mere diplomatic posturing, they would be gambling not only with their own political futures, but the futures of 80 million Iranians as well.

    Sep 26, 2014

  • News Release

    News Release

    Pentagon Should Elevate the Importance of Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction in Operational Planning

    Although the United States military has determined countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to be a strategic priority, policymakers have invested too little in the forces and capabilities needed to eliminate vulnerable arsenals.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • A worker engages in decontamination procedures

    Research Brief

    Closing the Strategy-Policy Gap in Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction

    Two presidents have declared counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) a top national priority, but it has not been budgeted or resourced as such. This brief summarizes ground force capacities and capabilities needed to eliminate WMD.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • The Flying Dragons flew in support of a joint air assault in which Soldiers conducted a search for illegal weapons on various compounds throughout Nawa Valley, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, May 25, 2014

    Report

    Pentagon Should Elevate the Importance of Eliminating WMDs in Operational Planning

    Joint force commanders should carefully consider requirements for eliminating weapons of mass destruction in their contingency and operational planning. And DoD policy decisions involving Army force structure should consider the conventional ground force requirements of such operations.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during a meeting in Ankara, June 10, 2014

    Commentary

    Nuclear Deal or No Deal, Don't Expect Iran Changes

    The impeachment of Iranian science minister Faraji-Dana, the latest in the struggle between Iran's so-called moderates and hard-liners, is likely a sign of troubling times ahead. Rouhani is the West's best hope of the nuclear issue being addressed, but a deal could energize his rivals in their bid to stave off change.

    Sep 8, 2014

  • U.S. Capitol building with summer flowers

    Blog

    Summer Reading for Congress

    No matter how policymakers spend their break—meeting with home-state constituents, traveling abroad with congressional delegations, or spending time with family—this summer reading list contains policy ideas that can help them hit the ground running when they return.

    Jul 31, 2014

  • A demonstrator, her face painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, outside the Israeli Embassy in London, July 26, 2014

    Commentary

    Gaza and the Nuclear Negotiations

    Whether a deal materializes that meets Iranian demands for a civilian nuclear program, but is limited enough to satisfy the U.S. and its partners remains to be seen. But the longer the Gaza conflict continues, the harder it'll be to insulate the negotiations from broader regional trends.

    Jul 28, 2014

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009

    Commentary

    Can U.S. and Iran Work Together in Iraq?

    The presence of Iranian and American troops in Iraq may necessitate clear and direct communications between the two sides, at least to prevent misunderstanding and greater chaos. But Washington should tread carefully and focus on nuclear negotiations for now.

    Jul 3, 2014

  • Members of Iran's Basij militia march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war, September 22, 2010

    Commentary

    The Fallacy of Iranian Leverage

    Rather than helping Iran in the nuclear negotiations, Iran's battle against the ISIS could actually hurt it. The broader strategic dynamics were already working against Iran, and the situation in Iraq has only made that more true.

    Jun 27, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrives at a news conference

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran: U.S. Policies of Hedging and Engaging

    Is the emerging consensus on a set of policies toward Iran and U.S. regional partners the best approach? Or might these policies eliminate opportunities for the United States to alter the U.S.-Iran relationship — and potentially undercut support in Iran for the agreement?

    Jun 10, 2014

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Israeli, Saudi, and Iranian Responses in the Days After a Deal With Iran: What Are the U.S. Options?

    In this June 2014 Congressional Briefing, a panel of Middle East experts discuss concerns about Iran of two key U.S. partners; the internal dynamics and motivations of the Iranian government; and U.S. policy options to craft a sustainable nuclear agreement with Iran.

    Jun 4, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference after the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai May 22, 2014

    Commentary

    Let's Make a Deal: Iran Edition

    Washington will strive to achieve the best deal for U.S. and allied interests. Iran may not like that; after all, Khamenei may want to preserve most of Iran's nuclear-weapons capability. But his regime is simply in no position to make such maximalist demands. Iran has to lower its expectations if it wants a deal.

    Jun 2, 2014

  • Brochure

    Brochure

    Challenges in U.S. National Security Policy: A Festschrift Honoring Edward L. (Ted) Warner

    Among Ted Warner's many notable accomplishments, perhaps the most important has been the opportunity to mentor a substantial number of exceptionally talented men and women on various aspects of U.S. and Russian defense and arms control policy.

    May 13, 2014

  • European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wait for the start of talks in Vienna April 9, 2014

    Commentary

    Too Important to Fail

    Preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state would contribute to global security, and especially to the security and stability of the Middle East, but these are not the only considerations at hand.

    Apr 18, 2014

  • 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

  • European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrive for a news conference after talks in Vienna April 9, 2014, photo by Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran

    What might the Middle East and U.S. policy look like in the days after a deal with Iran? Experts posit that a final nuclear agreement is reached with Iran and then examine the potential responses of two U.S. partners in the region: Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    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

    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