94 Items

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Evaluating the Nuclear Posture Review

In February, the Pentagon released a new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), a comprehensive overview of the nation’s nuclear forces, their disposition, and plans for the future. Here, Belfer Center experts share their assessments of this NPR and the future of America’s nuclear capabilities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian businessmen in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.

(AP)

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

A Blueprint for Donald Trump to Fix Relations with Russia

| December 18, 2016

In a "policy memo" to President-elect Donald Trump, Graham Allison and Dimitri K. Simes write: "The two Chinese characters that make up the word “crisis” can be interpreted as meaning both “danger” and “opportunity.” Russia today offers your administration not only a serious challenge but a significant opportunity.

Russia is no longer the Evil Empire the United States confronted over decades of Cold War. Nonetheless, Russia remains a player whose choices affect vital U.S. interests profoundly across the agenda of global issues. First and foremost, Russia remains the only nation that can erase the United States from the map in thirty minutes.

Could There Be a Terrorist Fukushima?

commons.wikimedia.org

Analysis & Opinions - The New York Times

Could There Be a Terrorist Fukushima?

| April 4, 2016

The attacks in Brussels last month were a stark reminder of the terrorists’ resolve, and of our continued vulnerabilities, including in an area of paramount concern: nuclear security.

The attackers struck an airport and the subway, but some Belgian investigators believe they seemed to have fallen back on those targets because they felt the authorities closing in on them, and that their original plan may have been to strike a nuclear plant. A few months ago, during a raid in the apartment of a suspect linked to the November attacks in Paris, investigators found surveillance footage of a senior Belgian nuclear official. Belgian police are said to have connected two of the Brussels terrorists to that footage.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen in Beijing as Chinese battle tanks roll by during a Sept. 3, 2015 parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II.

(AP Photo)

Magazine Article - The Atlantic

The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?

| September 24, 2015

The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.

Ministers of  foreign affairs from France, Germany, the EU, Iran, the UK and the US, as well as Chinese and Russian diplomats, met in April to discuss the framework of the Iran nuclear deal.

U.S. Department of State

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

4 Myths about the Iran Sanctions

| July 10, 2015

The latest sticking point in nuclear negotiations with Iran has little to do with the issues that have captivated attention in Washington—centrifuges, uranium stockpile and inspections of military sites. Instead, it has focused on the intricacies of sanctions: the Iranian delegation has demanded that a United Nations embargo on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles be lifted. While the United States rejects such a concession, the Russians have reportedly broken ranks and support Iran’s position.

Nietzsche and the Nuclear Era

F. Hartmann

Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

Nietzsche and the Nuclear Era

| July 8, 2015

Diplomats are extending Iran nuclear negotiations into overtime this week, and American lawmakers are preparing for mandatory congressional review. As they decide whether to vote yes or no on a possible deal, they should remember the sage advice of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who observed that the “most common form of human stupidity is forgetting what one is trying to do.” I have a framed version of that quotation in my office and try to think about it every day.

In the case of Iran’s nuclear program, what is the U.S. trying to do? In a sentence: “Stop Iran verifiably and interruptibly short of a nuclear bomb.” No agreement, no airstrike, and no other option anyone has identified can give 100 percent assurance that Iran will not acquire a bomb. The U.S. does not have 100 percent confidence today that Iran has not already built a bomb, or bought a weapon from North Korea (from whom it has certainly purchased missiles). The question members of Congress must answer is whether the deal the U.S. and its P5+1 partners have negotiated is more likely to prevent Iran’s acquiring a bomb for the lifetime of the agreement than any feasible alternative.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif meet in Paris to discuss the Iranian nuclear deal.

United States Department of State

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

Assessing an Iran Deal: 5 Big Lessons from History

| July 7, 2015

As the policy community prepares to assess an agreement between the U.S. and its P5+1 partners and Iran, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker asked me to review the history of analogous agreements for lessons that illuminate the current challenge. In response to his assignment, I reviewed the seven decades of the nuclear era, during which the U.S. negotiated arms-control treaties, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968; strategic arms limitation talks and agreements from SALT to New Start; the North Korean accord of 1994; the agreements that helped eliminate nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus in the early 1990s; and the pact that eliminated the Libyan nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Among many lessons and clues from this instructive history, five stand out

Genie, the first air-to-air nuclear weapon, pictured at the missile park outside the White Sands Missile Range Museum in Dona Ana County, N.M., on April 25, 2015.

(AP Photo by: Alex Milan Tracy)

Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

A Nuclear Nightmare Averted

| May 22, 2015

"This week, with little fanfare, one of the world’s key restraints on the spread of nuclear weapons came under scrutiny, as a month-long review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) concluded at the United Nations," writes Graham Allison. "Negotiated over the 1960s, the NPT was signed in 1968 and became international law in 1970. As specified by the treaty, members hold a conference every five years to assess the agreement. The exercise offers insight into our nuclear age, and perspective ahead of the coming debate over a treaty to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, in the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, April 27, 2015.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

Is America Fulfilling Its NPT Commitment?

| May 22, 2015

"At the UN today, this year’s Review Conference will conclude its assessment of the performance of member-states that signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which became international law in 1970," Graham Allison writes. "Among the central issues the parties debated was whether the United States and Russia have been fulfilling their commitments under the treaty."

Allison points out that the U.S. arsenal has been cut by more than 80 percent by 1970, and the Soviet arsenal has been reduced proportionally. "The NPT and the norms it has established help ensure a more secure future for us all," he writes.

US and Ukrainian soldiers stand guard during opening ceremony of the 'Fiarles Guardian - 2015', Ukrainian-US Peacekeeping and Security command and staff training, in western Ukraine, in Lviv region, Monday, April 20, 2015.

(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Magazine Article - The National Interest

Russia and America: Stumbling to War

| May-June 2015

In the United States and Europe, many believe that the best way to prevent Russia’s resumption of its historic imperial mission is to assure the independence of Ukraine. They insist that the West must do whatever is required to stop the Kremlin from establishing direct or indirect control over that country. Otherwise, they foresee Russia reassembling the former Soviet empire and threatening all of Europe. Conversely, in Russia, many claim that while Russia is willing to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (with the exception of Crimea), Moscow will demand no less than any other great power would on its border. Security on its western frontier requires a special relationship with Ukraine and a degree of deference expected in major powers’ spheres of influence. More specifically, Russia’s establishment sentiment holds that the country can never be secure if Ukraine joins NATO or becomes a part of a hostile Euro-Atlantic community. From their perspective, this makes Ukraine’s nonadversarial status a nonnegotiable demand for any Russia powerful enough to defend its national-security interests.