- National Security Program on Industry and Resources
- U.S. Defense and National Security
- Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies
- Project on Nuclear Issues
- About PONI
- PONI Membership
- PONI Debates the Issues Blog
- PONI Forum
- Conference Series
- Nuclear Policy News
- Live Debate Series
- Nuclear Scholars Initiative
- Breakfast and Lunch Events
- Nuclear Notes
- The Next Generation Working Group
- International Outreach
- Reference Desk
- PONI Publications
- Archived PONI Projects
- Proliferation Prevention Program
- Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program
- Program on Crisis, Conflict, and Cooperation
- Global Trends: Seven Revolutions
- Defense Budget Analysis
- Military Fellows
- Military Strategy Forum
- International Security Program Archived Projects
- CSIS and SeaPort-E
- May 31, 2012TOP NEWSN.Korea Puts Nuclear Arms in ConstitutionResearchers Find Clues in Malware
- May 30, 2012
By Eli JacobsKeith Payne’s recently published an op ed responding to the recent Global Zero U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission Report, chaired by General Cartwright (USMC, ret). Unlike Thomas Donnelly’s recent piece, Payne does not criticize the details of the report. Instead, he focuses his ire on its statement that “[s]ecurity is mainly a state of mind, not a physical condition,” using his criticism of this stance to launch a broader critique of the report’s foundational assumptions.Payne makes a number of interesting observations. However, he frames his argument around a straw person. The statement that “security is mainly a state of mind” does not mean, as Payne assumes, that hard security realities can be wished away. Instead, it’s a description of realities particular to nuclear weapons. Security from nuclear attack is, in fact, a state of mind. Since nuclear weapons are intended primarily to deter, what allies and adversaries think – their states of mind – will be what really matters for nuclear security.
- May 30, 2012
By David SlungaardFollowing the completion of NATO’s two day summit in Chicago and the subsequent release of the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR), much has been said over the future of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. Discussions surrounding the review have roundly criticized the military alliance for failing to further arms control and disarmament goals set forth during the previous 2010 summit in Lisbon. A mandated follow-on from Lisbon, the DDPR was commissioned to provide a strategic framework to resolve the role and prospects for U.S. forward-deployed nuclear weapons stationed across five NATO member states. While the text does contribute a broader understanding of the interplay between nuclear, conventional, and missile defenses in maintaining the integrity of the alliance, the DDPR falls short in providing substance on several key issues. This failure to achieve a consensus on the future of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe will likely have serious implications for global disarmament norms and bilateral arms control initiatives.
- May 30, 2012
- May 29, 2012
Submit a proposal by Monday, June 4 to present at the summer conference at Los Alamos National Laboratory (June 27-28).
Guidelines for presentation proposals can be found here.
More information about the summer conference can be found on the conference event page.
Email submissions and any questions to SSpies@csis.org.
- May 29, 2012
- May 24, 2012
- May 24, 2012
By Eli JacobsFrom the perspective of many states, biological weapons seem to enjoy all the benefits of nuclear weapons and none of their drawbacks. Bioweapons are both cheaper and easier to produce. Countries that pursue bioweapons are less likely to get caught—whereas the IAEA has 2300 employees, the Implementation Support Unit of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) has only 3, and lacks any sort of inspections regime. In the unlikely event that a country is caught, international diplomatic costs are likely to be low. Despite the norm against bioweapons, the BWC has no teeth; there exists no regime of sanctions and incentives comparable to those present within the NPT.At the same time, biological weapons share nuclear weapons’ capability of inflicting mass casualties on civilian populations. In theory, states pursuing a strategic deterrent ought to consider foregoing nuclear weapons to focus on bioweapons.The majority of U.S. counter-proliferation efforts, however, appear to deprioritize this possibility. They tend to focus on nuclear proliferation, which is understood to significantly upset both regional and global power dynamics. Most discussion of bioweapons concerns acquisition and use by nonstate groups, with relatively little attention given to the risks of state acquisition and related balance of power dynamics. Terrorism is an important concern for nuclear, but it is far from the sole focus of discussion.This reality is puzzling, but it can be explained by a confluence of two factors: the capabilities of bioweapons and perceptions of them in U.S. policymaking circles.
- May 23, 2012
- May 22, 2012By David J. ElkindIn 2006, Professors Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press published “The End of MAD? The Nuclear Dimension of U.S. Primacy” a provocative article which argued that the United States had acquired the ability to launch a disarming first-strike against Russia’s nuclear weapons sites.1 The article derives its title from the doctrine of “mutually-assured destruction” (MAD), which expressed the strategic balance of arms between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. According to MAD, neither superpower would dare initiate war without fearing cataclysmic retaliation. The authors argue, however, that the gradual erosion of Russia’s strategic posture a decade-and-a-half after the end of the Cold War, combined with qualitative improvements in the American arsenal, relieved the United States of retaliatory concerns.This article is composed of several parts. The first is a brief overview of Lieber and Press’s model of a counterforce nuclear strike on Russia and their assumptions. This includes an assessment of the key features of the US-Russian strategic balance that have shifted since their article’s publication in 2006, and the (sizeable) limitations of their analysis. Second, I adapt Lieber and Press’s model for the current force deployments as the two nations bring their arsenal into compliance with New START, as their original plan is no longer possible. Third, I assess the likelihood of a successful first strike under this modified version of Lieber and Press’s model. My analysis shows that reducing the number of weapons assigned to each target dramatically increases the likelihood of target survival and, in my view, confirms that the United States no longer possesses nuclear primacy (and perhaps never did, but that is a separate question). Sensitivity analysis amplifies these concerns. Even after making dramatic accuracy improvements, the odds of a target surviving remain far too high to claim that the United States has achieved nuclear primacy or that it will be within reach for the foreseeable future. Finally, I conclude with some remarks on the desirability of nuclear primacy.
- May 22, 2012
TOP NEWSNorth Korea Denies It Had Plans To Conduct Nuclear Weapons TestUS senate approves bill to tighten Iran sanctions
- May 21, 2012
By Andrea Berger
(This article was originally posted as a Commentary for RUSI.org)
18/05/12 - Earlier this month, this correspondent had the opportunity to observe the proceedings of the 2012 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee (or 'PrepCom'). Representatives from 110 countries and over 60 non-governmental organisations met in Vienna to discuss progress in nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.Reports from the meeting highlighted its smooth progression and temperate tone. While the overall atmosphere was indeed congenial, those on the sidelines of the meeting witnessed a few notable exceptions (namely, rhetorical exchanges with Iran) and some tense undercurrents that failed to make their way into recorded remarks. Together, these suggest that rough waters may be ahead for the NPT, and the tone of subsequent PrepComs may be much less positive.
- May 21, 2012
- May 18, 2012
By David SlungaardYesterday, the Brookings Institute hosted an event to discuss U.S. plans to advance NATO missile defense capabilities in Europe and the future of U.S.-Russian and NATO-Russian relations. The panel, “Missile Defense: Cooperation or Contention?” was moderated by Clara O’Donnell, Fellow at Brookings. Selected speakers included David Hoffman, Contributing Editor, Foreign Policy; Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow and Director, Arms Control Initiative, Brookings; and Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association.
- May 18, 2012
By Eli JacobsJohn Kyl’s recent op ed argues that the United States should not give Russia political guarantees that NATO missile defense does not threaten Russia’s nuclear deterrent. The crux of his argument is that such guarantees limit the United States’ right to self-defense, an unprecedented move that creates an undesirable power asymmetry.My colleague has written a substantive critique of Kyl’s argument. Unlike my colleague, I am a missile defense supporter. As a result, what stands out to me are some of the background assumptions of Kyl’s argument and the situation generally. Namely, why does Kyl assume that a political guarantee actually limits U.S. defense options? More interestingly, why does Russia (seem to) believe that legal guarantees would secure it from the dangers of missile defense?
- May 18, 2012
- May 17, 2012By David J. ElkindTuesday, Senator Jon Kyl published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal which argues that a missile defense system in Europe is necessary to check against rogue launches from established nuclear states as well as future weapons from nascent nuclear powers such as Iran and North Korea. Unfortunately, Sen. Kyl’s piece does little to illuminate the issues or refute arguments made in opposition to the planned missile-defenses in Europe. Rather than engage these objections, Sen. Kyl’s arguments make only a superficial attempt to rebut objections to NATO’s missile-defense plans.
- May 17, 2012
- May 15, 2012
- May 14, 2012
Lunch Discussion with Maj. Gen. William A. Chambers, USAF
Tuesday, May 22 (11:30am to 1:00pm), Center for Strategic and International Studies, B1C Conference Room
Maj. General William Chambers, the U.S. Air Force’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, will discuss a number of key domestic and international issues affecting the Air Force’s nuclear mission and respond to questions during this informal, off-the-record discussion. As one of the Air Force's leading voices in Washington, Gen. Chambers fulfills an important role in overseeing the Air Force's nuclear weapons stewardship and engaging others across government to address issues of concern regarding the nuclear enterprise in the U.S. and nuclear weapons generally. Lunch will be served.
- May 14, 2012
TOP NEWSTrio warned North Korea off nuclear testUN nuclear watchdog demands Iran cooperation
- May 11, 2012
TOP NEWSChung calls for nuke redeploymentNuclear-capable Hatf III test-firedThe Nation (Pakistan)
- May 10, 2012By David J. ElkindProfessors M. Taylor Fravel and Vipin Narang’s recent Foreign Policy article “The Asian Arms Race That Wasn’t” argues that India’s recent Agni V test is unlikely to prompt an arms race between India, Pakistan and/or China. While I agree with their assessment that “India’s test reflects one step forward in a long process of gradually achieving a retaliatory capability against its regional adversaries,” I think it is important to emphasize that the current and future programs to enhance nuclear capabilities in Asia are quite marginal. In particular, I would like to draw attention to the robustness of India and China’s current capabilities and how these features contribute to strategic stability between the two powers.May 10, 2012By David SlungaardLast Friday, the Woodrow Wilson Center hosted an event featuring Deputy Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Jon Wolfsthal. The discussion, “The Path to Lower Nuclear Numbers?,” focused on challenges facing continued arms reductions during a period of increasing fiscal austerity. Mr. Wolfsthal, former special advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden for nuclear security and nonproliferation, reported on the difficulties in maintaining recent modernization efforts to the U.S. nuclear arsenal while pursuing nuclear arms reductions benchmarks outlined in the New START treaty. Resolving this tension, Wolfsthal explained, will be critical in maintaining an effective nuclear deterrent force as well as supporting the overall health of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.May 10, 2012
TOP NEWSNorth Korea threatens to bolster its nuclear arsenal amid worries about another atomic testMay 9, 2012
By Eli JacobsA foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. – Ralph Waldo EmersonA recent op ed by Jane Harman makes the case that the United States should have “zero tolerance” for attempts by non-nuclear weapons states to improve their nuclear capabilities. As a result, we should think and talk about North Korea’s recent failed missile test and India’s long-range Agni-V missile test as moral equivalents. This argument, while superficially appealing, falls victim to the error identified by Emerson: fetishizing consistency at the expense of common sense. It makes a good point about the direction of current U.S. policy, but one that is not useful in shaping that policy going forward.May 9, 2012TOP NEWSExperts say even if North Korea performs 3rd nuke test, a useable weapon may still be far offMiddle East nuclear talks thrown into doubtNew Israel Partner Offers Moderate Voice on IranMay 8, 2012TOP NEWSExperts say even if North Korea performs 3rd nuke test, a useable weapon may still be far offMay 7, 2012By Eli JacobsYousaf Butt has written another op ed criticizing missile defense. A good deal of his argument is recycled from an earlier piece that I’ve already rebutted. I won’t repeat myself here.Butt does make a new argument this time around: that missile defense is conceptually flawed because the uncertainty of successful interception does not change U.S. calculus vis-à-vis other states in the event of a crisis. This argument mistakenly views freedom of action as a one-way street when, in fact, our adversaries confront the same tactical uncertainty that we do. And this works to our benefit, encouraging greater caution among states that, according to Butt’s own argument, are hypercautious when sizing up U.S. missile defense capabilities.May 7, 2012TOP NEWSClinton lays down criteria for working with DPRKAyatollah Khamenei gives Iran nuclear talks unprecedented legitimacyMay 4, 2012
TOP NEWSIAEA says would "not be surprised" by North Korea nuke testIran holds parliamentary election run-offsRussia says preemptive strike on NATO missile system is possibleMay 3, 2012TOP NEWSInside the Ring: China launcher proliferationMay 2, 2012
TOP NEWSN. Korea 'ready for third nuclear test'Iran says seeks end to sanctions at talks with world powersMay 1, 2012
By David J. ElkindRecently, the Cato institute hosted an event in the Rayburn House Office Building to discuss the budget allocations for nuclear weapons and the future of the triad in particular. The speakers included Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; Russell Rumbaugh, Director, Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense Program, Stimson Center; and Laura Peterson, Senior Policy Analyst, Taxpayers for Common Sense. Laura Odato, Manager of Government Affairs at Cato, moderated the discussion.May 1, 2012TOP NEWSNew satellite imagery shows preparations at NKorea nuclear test site