In this op-ed for The Conversation, Kalman Robertson writes that Iran agreed never to develop nuclear weapons when it signed the NPT in 1968. There's no ironclad method to prevent Iran from breaking its promise and developing nuclear weapons, but this new agreement builds in a number of strong protections. In conjunction with U.S. and allied intelligence capabilities, these rules mean even a sophisticated and carefully executed secret plan would carry a high risk of detection.
January 7, 2016
North Korea’s report that it tested a hydrogen bomb this week set off alarm bells around the world. Though analysts are casting doubt on the nature of the detonation, Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test is a reminder of the regime's unpredictability. How serious is this action and how should foreign powers respond? Belfer Center experts Graham Allison, Jieun Baek, Matthew Bunn, Nicholas Burns, Olli Heinonen, John Park, Gary Samore, and William Tobey weigh in on the significance and implications of North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
September 15, 2015
By Martin B. Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom, Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom and William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
The “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”—the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran—will enter the implementation phase within months. US policy makers must now consider how best to strengthen the accord as implementation approaches, and in how best engage Iran as implementation proceeds. In this discussion, nonproliferation experts William H. Tobey and Matthew Bunn discuss how to strike an effective balance between cooperation and confrontation in dealing with Iran on the nuclear agreement and beyond. The discussion was moderated by Martin B. Malin and followed by Q&A with the audience.
August 20, 2015
The National Interest
By Gene Gerzhoy, Former Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, July–August 2015; Former Research Fellow Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program, 2013–June 2015
"Insofar as Iran demonstrates a willingness to compromise, U.S. policymakers will need to carefully weigh their interest in supporting regional allies intent on confronting Iran against the U.S. objective of encouraging Iranian nuclear restraint by reducing tensions."
August 7, 2015
The National Interest
By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom
"...[I]t's important to remember that the broad inspections called for by the International Atomic Energy Agency's Additional Protocol are permanent, not limited to ten to fifteen years. Iran's legal obligation not to build nuclear weapons is also permanent."
August 3, 2015
By Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Definitive Guide has been produced in the interest of contributing to informed Congressional review and public discourse on a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It provides a concise description of the agreement and the accompanying UN Security Council Resolution 2231. It also includes a balanced assessment of the agreement's strengths and weaknesses with respect to its central objective to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The team of experts who prepared the report includes Democrats, Republicans, independents, and internationals. Noting areas of disagreement among themselves, they agreed that this report provides an accurate description and balanced assessment of the agreement.
August 3, 2015
The National Interest
By Aaron Arnold, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
"Although this phased-approach to sanctions relief under the JCPOA ensures that Iran does not receive benefits without first implementing its nuclear commitments, uncertainties remain. The agreement does not affect U.S. and EU non-nuclear sanctions, such as those that target human rights abuses, support for terrorism, and money laundering. One question is whether or not relief from nuclear-related sanctions will affect the usefulness of non-nuclear sanctions."
July 20, 2015
By Hui Zhang, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom and Yun Zhou, Former Associate, Project on Managing the Atom (MTA), 2013–2014; Former Research Fellow, International Security Program (ISP)/MTA, 2011–2013; Former Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, ISP/MTA, 2010–2011; Former Research Fellow, ISP/MTA, 2009–2010
"Plutonium was first separated by the United States during the Second World War. Uranium was loaded into nuclear reactors, irradiated, cooled, and then chemically “reprocessed” in another facility to recover the plutonium. The reactors and the reprocessing plant were built as part of the secret atomic bomb project. Since then, eight other countries also have produced and separated plutonium for weapons..."
International Security, issue 1, volume 40
By Mark Bell, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom
How does the acquisition of nuclear weapons affect states' foreign policy? A new typology of six potential post-acquisition state behaviors—aggression, expansion, independence, bolstering, steadfastness, and compromise—offers a more nuanced answer to this question than previous studies have provided. The United Kingdom's foreign policy after it developed the bomb reveals how nuclear weapons can make a country more assertive.
August 12, 2014
The New York Times
By William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom and Nickolas Roth, Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
In this op-ed for the International New York Times, William H. Tobey, Matthew Bunn, and Nickolas Roth make the case for continuing nuclear security cooperation with Russia and continuing to fund international nuclear security efforts.
March 18, 2014
By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, Martin B. Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom, Nickolas Roth, Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom and William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
In the lead-up to the nuclear security summit, Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals outlines what was accomplished in a four-year effort launched in 2009 to secure nuclear material around the globe—and what remains to be done. The effort made significant progress, but some weapons-usable nuclear materials still remain “dangerously vulnerable." The authors highlight the continuing danger of nuclear and radiological terrorism and call for urgent action.
March 14, 2014
China’s approach to strengthening the security of its nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities plays an important role in facilitating strong global action on nuclear security. This report provides a better understanding of Chinese perceptions of the threat of nuclear terrorism and attitudes toward the nuclear security challenge; describes the current status of nuclear security practices in China and of planned improvements in rules and organization, management, and technologies; and recommends steps for further improvements.
March 11, 2014
By Trevor Findlay, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
There has been much speculation as to what might replace the Nuclear Security Summits after 2016. One candidate touted as a suitable inheritor of the summits’ mantle is the International Atomic Energy Agency. In this discussion paper, Trevor Findlay examines whether and to what extent the IAEA could and should do so, what form its role might take, and how the Agency and summiteers might prepare for such an eventuality.
August 15, 2013
The Belfer Center’s Eben Harrell and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David E. Hoffman for the first time report the details of one of the largest nuclear security operations of the post-Cold War years — a secret 17-year, $150 million operation to secure plutonium in the tunnels of Degelen Mountain.
Science & Global Security, issue 1, volume 19
By Hui Zhang, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
Hui Zhang's article "China's HEU and Plutonium Production and Stocks" was published in the January-April 2011 issue of Science & Global Security. This article discusses the history of China’s production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons and uses new public information to estimate the amount of highly enriched uranium and plutonium China produced at its two gaseous diffusion plants and two plutonium production complexes.
By Bob van der Zwaan, Former Research Associate, Energy Technology Innovation research group/Project on Managing the Atom Project/Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, 2001–2005, John P. Holdren, Former Director and Faculty Chair, Science, Technology and Public Policy Program, Steve Fetter, Former Associate, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program and Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom
For decades, there has been an intense debate over the best approach to managing spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, whether it is better to dispose of it directly in geologic repositories, or reprocess it to recover and recycle the plutonium and uranium, disposing only of the wastes from reprocessing and recycling.
Getting to Zero: Is Pursuing a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World Too Difficult? Too Dangerous? Too Distracting?
By John P. Holdren, Former Director and Faculty Chair, Science, Technology and Public Policy Program
John P. Holdren sorts out some of the conceptual and terminological ambiguities about the meaning of "zero" nuclear weapons in this paper.