May 2013 Update
At a time when the possibility of military action against Iran's nuclear program is being debated, the need for a clear understanding of the issues and the controversial science and technology behind them has never been more acute. Toward that end, the Washington Institute and Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs have copublished an interactive online glossary of terms used in the discussion about Iran, prepared by proliferation expert Simon Henderson and Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Once described as ‘as close as lips and teeth’, in recent years the relationship between China and North Korea has become more strained. Beijing has conflicted motivations in its policy towards Pyongyang. The threat to Beijing’s interests if North Korean nuclear weapons or materials find their way into the hands of others outweighs the danger of a regime collapse in Pyongyang.
By Mansour Salsabili, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom
Ambiguity in Iran's weapon acquisition dynamics exacerbates mistrust, which is the core reason for the present standoff at the negotiating table. This paper elucidates the Iranian military's capability and intention by delving into the main componential elements of weapon acquisition.
January 22, 2013
The establishment of a WMDFZ in the Middle East is a real challenge for the international community taking into consideration the absence of favorable conditions such as the mutual states recognitions as political entities with established diplomatic relations, and stability. To start with, there is no one single model for existing Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ). Each existing NWFZ treaty had introduced elements, including creative legal arrangements, and unique features depending on the specificities of each zone. The current treaties of the South Pacific NWFZ, the Southeast Asian NWFZ, the African NWFZ, the Latin American NWFZ, and the Central Asian NWFZ, can be studied and applied where relevant. So, too, there exist organizations responsible for the verification of these treaties (IAEA, OPCW, CTBTO). The case of the Middle East will be more complex since the treaty is envisioned to cover all weapons of mass destruction including biological and chemical as well as their delivery vehicles. A large number of political, historical, technical, and verification issues need to be factored into the Treaty. In other words, working on a WMDFZ means the necessity to deal with all WMD aspects together. Progressing the WMDFZ further means looking at a composite picture of states’ concerns and relations in the region that just counting weapons reduction alone.
How can the states of the Middle East begin to create the political conditions for achieving sustained progress toward the elimination of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons? This paper examines the challenges and obstacles that the parties of the region will need to overcome to bring a WMD-free zone into force, and recommends near-term steps for improving regional security.
December 14, 2012
By William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
This paper analyzes the contribution that best practices can make to the field of nuclear security by doing the following:
- Defining what is meant by best practice
- Specifying a methodology for deriving it
- Understanding the resulting characteristics of the method
- Comparing its pros and cons to other methods contributing to security, such as guidelines and regulations
International Security, issue 3, volume 37
Comparative assessment of the arguments on both sides suggests that signs of commitment to nuclear disarmament by the nuclear weapon states will tend to enhance support for nonproliferation. Because of the multitude of other factors that affect state decisionmaking, however, progress on disarmament will not by itself address all of the challenges to making the nonproliferation regime effective.
Environmental Science and Technology, issue 12, volume 46
By Laura Diaz Anadon, Associate Director, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program; Director, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group; Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Valentina Bosetti, Matthew Bunn, Associate Professor of Public Policy; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, Michela Catenacci and Audrey Lee, Former Research Fellow, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, 2009–2011
Probabilistic estimates of the cost and performance of future nuclear energy systems under different scenarios of government research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) spending were obtained from 30 U.S. and 30 European nuclear technology experts. The majority expected that such RD&D would have only a modest effect on cost, but would improve performance in other areas, such as safety, waste management, and uranium resource utilization. The U.S. and E.U. experts were in relative agreement regarding how government RD&D funds should be allocated, placing particular focus on very high temperature reactors, sodium-cooled fast reactors, fuels and materials, and fuel cycle technologies.
December 2012–January 2013
Survival, issue 6, volume 54
By Chuck Freilich, Senior Fellow, International Security Program
"Although the unusual public nature and stridency of the debate struck many around the world, it is still hard for those abroad to understand how great the effect on the Israeli public has been. The Iranian nuclear programme had been the one consensual issue in an otherwise politically frenetic and deeply divided country and was dealt with, so the public believed, in a manner appropriate to the severity of the threat."
November 27, 2012
Much attention has focused on Iran's advancing nuclear program, on the peace and security concerns which that program has raised, and on the international policy debate over how to respond to that program. Far less attention has been paid to the various legal-sounding arguments used by Iran and a few academics to call into question the mandate of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to investigate and make determinations about actual or suspected violations of Iran’s legal obligations.