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

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Limited Options: Deterring North Korea and Iran

    The question today is no longer whether the United States can still prevent North Korea and Iran from emerging as nuclear-armed regional adversaries, but instead, how to prevent them from being empowered by their nuclear weapons. This won't be easy, writes Lowell H. Schwartz.

    Aug 14, 2009

  • Report

    Report

    A Question of Balance: Political Context and Military Aspects of the China-Taiwan Dispute

    While relations between China and Taiwan are warmer now than in recent years, China still feels entitled to use force to prevent Taiwan from becoming independent. Meanwhile, the modernizing of China's military may call into question the U.S.' ability to defend Taiwan against a large-scale Chinese attack.

    Jul 23, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Getting Value from the U.S.-ROK Summit

    For months, N. Korea has been trying to upstage the summit between S. Korean President Lee and U.S. President Obama that is scheduled for June 16. Almost all Americans I know have heard of the recent N. Korean provocations. But few have heard anything about the U.S.-ROK summit, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jun 15, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    No Surprise in Failure to Deter North Korea

    North Korea's latest misbehavior highlights an uncomfortable truth: the failure of the United States and the international community to deter its actions. In this case, it is pretty easy to see why North Korea has not been deterred, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jun 2, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    N.K. Provocation Suggests Regime in Trouble

    North Korea spent weeks preparing to launch a ballistic missile that could reach the United States. It argued that the launch was intended to put a satellite into orbit. But a space launch vehicle is a ballistic missile used for a modestly different purpose, writes Bruce W. Bennett.

    Apr 9, 2009

  • Report

    Report

    Public Health Preparedness for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Weapons

    Presents a broad overview of the U.S. public health response system, recent efforts to improve preparedness, challenges faced, and options for moving forward.

    Jan 1, 2009

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    RAND Review: Vol. 32, No. 3, Fall 2008

    The cover story offers 12 suggestions for the new U.S. president; other pieces discuss education and health in China and India, health policy models, the U.S. Postal Service mailbox monopoly, a green U.S. Army, and political reform in the Arab world.

    Dec 14, 2008

  • Report

    Report

    Lessons from Six Decades of Research on Deterrence, From Cold War to Long War

    The United States' 2006 reversal of its 2002 proclamation that deterrence was irrelevant to most future national security strategies is bolstered by research which shows that deterrence will likely play an ongoing role in U.S. efforts to manage a variety of threats, including both near-peer competitors and terrorist organizations.

    Oct 8, 2008

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Georgia Dispute Derails Bid to Stop Nuke Terrorism

    Given American concerns about nuclear proliferation and the possibility of nuclear terrorism, tying U.S.-Russian cooperation in the nuclear domain with the current Russia-Georgia quarrel may amount to shooting ourselves in the foot in a misguided attempt to punish Russia, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Oct 6, 2008

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?

    America is uniquely susceptible to nuclear terror. Beneath our characteristic national optimism lie seams of anxiety, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 12, 2008

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    A Nuclear 9/11?

    Will terrorists go nuclear? It is a question that worried public officials and frightened citizens have been asking for decades. It is no less of a worry today, as we ponder the seventh anniversary of 9/11, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 12, 2008

  • News Release

    News Release

    Book by Brian Michael Jenkins Explores Nuclear Terrorism; Allows Readers to Confront Crisis as a President Might

    In a new book, "Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?," leading terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins explores both the risks and history of nuclear terrorism, and warns that terrorists may not even need to acquire such weapons to order to perpetrate "nuclear terror."

    Sep 10, 2008

  • Commercial Book

    Commercial Book

    Terrorism Expert Examines Intelligence on Al Qaida in "Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?"

    According to a British intelligence report leaked to the press in 2007, al Qaida operatives are planning a large-scale attack "on par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki." But just how likely is such an attack?

    Aug 2, 2008

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Nuclear-Armed Regional Adversaries: How Deterrable Are They Likely to Be?

    This research brief describes a study of nuclear-armed regional adversaries, which suggests that U.S. policymakers and commanders will want to field improved capabilities that can prevent (rather than deter) an enemy's use of nuclear weapons.

    Jul 18, 2008

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Both Sides in Debate Over Iran Fail to See Dangers of Pre-Emptive Strike

    Opponents of war with Iran who take their stand on the grounds that Washington should talk to Tehran first are in danger of finding themselves trapped within a broadening national consensus that could lead to an unwinnable war, writes James Dobbins.

    Jun 30, 2008

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    Perspectives on the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism

    In testimony presented before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Roger C. Molander discusses confronting the prospects of a nuclear attack.

    Apr 15, 2008

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    The New Deterrence: Overwhelming and Searching Retaliation

    [T]he United States should leave no one in doubt: participation or complicity in a WMD attack will trigger "overwhelming" and searching retaliation, writes Elbridge Colby.

    Apr 10, 2008

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    A New National Strategy for Korea: North Korea Threats Require Deterrence, Reconciliation

    Over the last five years, the South Korean government has tried to downplay the military threat posed by North Korea. However North Korea still poses a serious military threat to South Korea, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Mar 13, 2008

  • nuclear war game maze

    Report

    The Challenge of Nuclear-Armed Regional Adversaries

    North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon in 2006 shows that such weapons are within reach of determined regional powers. Thus, defense planners in the United States and elsewhere must begin now to confront the new security challenges posed by nuclear-armed regional adversaries.

    Mar 10, 2008

  • Commercial Book

    Commercial Book

    Strategy in the Missile Age

    Classic work from 1959 that discusses the origins of air power, its cornerstone position in the evolution of Cold War era nuclear strategy, and its treatment of preventive and preemptive attacks, deterrence, and the economics of strategy.

    Oct 8, 2007