Nuclear Weapons and Warfare

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Nuclear weapons, the means of producing them, and their potential use play significant roles in international relations and homeland security. Throughout its history, RAND has provided detailed analyses and recommendations for defense planners and helped policymakers make informed national security decisions with regard to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the nuclear activities of India, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Iran, and other nations.

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a drill of long-range artillery sub-units of the Korean People's Army, March 2, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Report

    How Does North Korean Leadership Make Decisions?

    Aug 20, 2020

    With talks between the United States and North Korea at a standstill, U.S. policymakers must consider what the regime might do next and know what signs or decisions to look for. Will Kim open the DPRK economy? What if conventional deterrence fails on the Korean Peninsula? And what could lead to the use of nuclear weapons?

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty at Prague Castle in the Czech Republic, April 8, 2010, photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    Report

    The Military Case for Extending New START

    Feb 14, 2020

    The most prudent course of action would be for Washington to extend the U.S.-Russia New START agreement before it expires in February 2021. This would constrain Russia's nuclear forces covered by the treaty for five more years. And it would buy time to pursue multilateral negotiations that also include China.

Explore Nuclear Weapons and Warfare

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem November 6, 2013

    Commentary

    Playing Good Cop, Bad Cop with Iran

    On the one hand, U.S. negotiators must convince their Iranian counterparts that the United States is serious about offering genuine sanctions relief in return for Tehran making concessions on its nuclear ambitions. On the other hand, the negotiating team must also assuage the concerns of allies and members of Congress.

    Nov 22, 2013

  • Nuclear talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva November 20, 2013

    Commentary

    We're Close to a Good Deal with Iran. Why Sabotage It?

    It appears that Iran and the P5+1 are close to agreeing for Tehran to suspend major aspects of its program, including the enrichment of uranium to a medium level of 20 percent, and installation of more advanced centrifuges, in return for reversible and limited easing of sanctions.

    Nov 21, 2013

  • 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

  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Jeh Johnson during an announcement for Johnson to be his nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security

    Commentary

    Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for New Homeland Security Secretary

    To ensure the Department of Homeland Security makes progress in the current constrained budget environment, its new secretary must put in place a strategic perspective to guide priorities for how to address the country's most pressing problems in disaster management, immigration reform, cybersecurity, violent extremism, and nuclear terrorism.

    Oct 24, 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

  • 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

  • News Release

    News Release

    Rivalry, Cooperation Between Turkey and Iran Changing Along with the Middle East

    Economic cooperation between Turkey and Iran has increased over the past decade — mainly due to Iran's vast oil and natural gas reserves — but the degree of cooperation between the two nations should not be exaggerated.

    Aug 29, 2013

  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) during their meeting in Tehran in 2009

    Report

    Rivalry, Cooperation Between Turkey and Iran Changing Along with the Middle East

    Economic cooperation between Turkey and Iran has increased over the past decade — mainly due to Iran's vast oil and natural gas reserves — but the degree of cooperation between the two nations should not be exaggerated.

    Aug 26, 2013

  • Report

    Report

    Sustaining the U.S. Air Force Nuclear Mission

    This report proposes a double-layered framework for efficiently integrating and managing the sustainment activities of the U.S. Air Force nuclear enterprise in the face of reduced funding and a smaller force structure.

    Jul 31, 2013

  • Report

    Report

    Crisis Stability and Long-Range Strike: A Comparative Analysis of Fighters, Bombers, and Missiles

    In an international crisis, the United States must balance its threats with restraint while limiting its vulnerability. A RAND study sought to identify which long-range strike assets offer capabilities most conducive to stabilizing such crises.

    Jun 19, 2013

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang, March 29, 2013

    Commentary

    4 Factors to Consider in US Options for North Korea

    The US, working closely with its allies, should approach each potential conflict with North Korea in its own context, sculpting policy that draws on experience as well as observations made through research, writes Lowell Schwartz.

    Jun 12, 2013

  • identity checks in the 2009 Iranian election

    Blog

    Previewing the Iranian Election

    The Iranian regime seeks to produce a 2013 election that at least appears to be popular and legitimate; but more importantly, Khamenei desires a president who will act as his prime minister, rather than as an independent power.

    Jun 11, 2013

  • Supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, some wearing green, the color of the party, gather on the streets June 13, 2009, to protest the results of the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, Iran

    Report

    Iran's 2013 Presidential Election

    Iran's June 14, 2013 election will take place in the shadow of the turbulent 2009 presidential election, after which Iran witnessed the largest protests since the 1979 revolution. An analysis of the upcoming election considers Khamenei's objectives, the regime's electoral strategy, the competing factions and personalities, and the potential implications for the U.S., especially concerning Iran's nuclear program.

    Jun 5, 2013

  • Nawaz Sharif billboard on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Headquarters

    Commentary

    Preventing a Nuclear 'Great Game'

    America's imminent withdrawal from Afghanistan raises the possibility of renewed tension between Pakistan and India. With this month's election of Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan's next prime minister, Islamabad and New Delhi have a fleeting window of opportunity to improve relations.

    May 30, 2013

  • the Shrine of the Tomb of Imam Reza

    Commentary

    Think Again: A Nuclear Iran

    When contemplating the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, we should all be grateful that notions of martyrdom and apocalyptic beliefs don't have a significant pull on Iranian decision-making, writes Alireza Nader.

    May 29, 2013

  • Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili at a May 2013 news conference

    Report

    Iran After the Bomb: How Would a Nuclear-Armed Tehran Behave?

    Iran may feel more confident and gain a sense of prestige from a nuclear capability, but other factors, such as the regional geopolitical environment and Iran’s political, military, and economic capabilities, will have a greater bearing on Iranian calculations.

    May 17, 2013

  • 24th MEU,Realistic Urban Training,RUT,Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

    Report

    Brandishing Cyberattack Capabilities

    No one knows quite what would happen if a country suffered a full-fledged cyberattack, despite the plethora of skirmishes. But while cyberattack capabilities cannot easily be used to shape the behavior of others, this does not mean they cannot be used at all.

    May 13, 2013