PONI Debates the Issues Blog

All Posts (75)

By Graham Flaspoehler

After sixteen months of negotiations, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached April 2, 2015 is an exceptional milestone in the thirty-six years of fraught relations between the West and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The JCPOA is an understanding that outlines a framework for an eventual deal between the P5+1 and Iran over the most proliferation-sensitive…

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By Aaron Richards

In September the 58th annual session of the IAEA General Conference concluded in Vienna. Delegates and representatives from around the world met to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the Agency’s safeguards, provide new states with IAEA membership, and improve activities involving nuclear security and technical cooperation. Although the conference was productive, it once…

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The triad of nuclear weapon delivery systems – consisting of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), strategic bombers, and nuclear-armed submarines – is the holy trinity of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. However, all three legs of the triad are aging and will need large-scale, expensive modernization in the coming decades if they are to be maintained. This has prompted a discussion about the continued necessity of the nuclear…

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Today, the residents of Scotland are voting to decide whether or not their country will become independent from the United Kingdom. Washington has been abuzz about the potential ramifications of the vote, and the nuclear policy community is no exception. In case you’ve missed the discussion recently, here is a rundown of what a “yes” vote could mean for the U.K.’s nuclear weapons.

The U.K.’s nuclear weapons – four Vanguard submarines and accompanying Trident ballistic missiles loaned…

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PONI Debates the Issues: U.S. No First Use

Resolved: The United States should adopt a no first use nuclear policy

By Kaitlyn Duffy

On September 10, 2014, PONI continued its live debate series with a discussion on whether or not the United States should adopt a no first use (NFU) nuclear policy. The debate featured two renowned experts, with Mr. Jack Mendelsohn, former Deputy Director of the Arms Control Association, arguing in the Affirmative, and Mr. Walt Slocombe, former Under Secretary of Defense for…

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On Thursday, September 11, the Stimson Center hosted an event entitled “Nuclear Dynamics and Crisis Management in South Asia,” which previewed the content of two chapters of their upcoming publication, Deterrence Stability and Escalation Control in South Asia Vol. II. The event was moderated by Michael Krepon, director of Stimson’s South Asia…

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The Future of Homeland Missile Defense

The annual Space and Missile Defense conference held August 11-14 in Huntsville, Alabama covered a wide range of programs, but among the more prominent was the future of Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD). The most significant remarks for GMD were those given by Missile Defense Agency Director, Vice Admiral James Syring. Buoyed by a successful June 22 intercept, the program's future now seems less uncertain, with some significant improvements on track for the end of this decade—including new…
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Over the course of 30 years, from 1981 to 2011, NASA’s Space Shuttle program carried out 135 missions, completing 21,152 Earth orbits and traveling 542,398,878 miles during 1,334 days of flight time. But when the Atlantis returned to Earth on July 21, 2011 the program came to an end. Three years later, the consequences of NASA’s decision to end the Space Shuttle program are…

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by Kaitlyn Duffy

Last week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott met with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. to discuss and reaffirm the U.S.-Australia alliance with respect to force posture and defense cooperation. One result of the talks is that Abbott confirmed Australia’s previous commitments to supporting expanded U.S. missile…

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by Kaitlyn Duffy

“In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up." – President Barack Obama

Since the beginning of his first term, President Barack Obama has emphasized that nuclear terrorism poses one of the most critical threats to the world today. This was clearly stated in his…

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While much has been written from an American perspective about missile defense, there is much less debate in the English-speaking literature about the integration of such a weapons-system in the doctrines and strategies of medium nuclear powers such as France, especially with regards to the articulation between the role of missile defense and nuclear deterrence. This article highlights the shift that has occurred on this matter in French doctrine after the end of the Cold War. France now…

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On September 18, 2014, ordinary Scots will make a fundamentally important defense decision about the fate of nuclear deterrence in Europe, voting in a referendum to answer the question: Should the UK nuclear deterrent be dismantled?

In actuality, the referendum is on Scottish independence, and the real question up for a vote is: should Scotland be an independent country? But, the security implications of Scottish…

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Last month, in an address to the International Conference on Euro-Atlantic Security, NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow stated, “For 20 years, the security of the Euro-Atlantic region has been based on the premise that we do not face an adversary to our east. This premise is now in doubt.” The crisis in Crimea has fundamentally re-ordered post-Cold War security dynamics in…

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Likened to a Rubik’s Cube, nuclear negotiations with Iran involve multiple, interrelated points of contention. Most interested parties agree that a successful deal with Iran will include robust, verifiable limitations on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for significant sanctions relief for Tehran. However, deciding how robust; how verifiable; how long additional safeguards will be imposed; and what kind of sanctions relief – from whom, and sequenced how – are among the various questions…

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Amidst the growing chorus of specific proposals concerning Iran and an evolving Middle East, the United States should quietly choose a strategy from the same drawer as the one that contributed to the longest span of peace between rival powers in European history. The United States should prioritize stability over regional dominance.

The interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and continuing dialogue on a longer-term settlement have stirred the United States’ leading minds to…

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During a March 2014 speech to Iran’s Defense Ministry, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asserted, “We are not after weapons of mass destruction. That’s our red line. If Iran was after weapons of mass destruction, it would build chemical weapons. Those are easier to make. It would build biological arms, which are even easier than making chemical weapons.” Rouhani’s recent…

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In his 1966 publication Arms and Influence, Thomas Shelling wrote, “Military strategy can no longer be thought of as the science of military victory. It is now equally, if not more, the art of coercion, of intimidation and deterrence.” Shelling’s doctrine of coercive diplomacy is a strategy to prevent (deter) an enemy from engaging in unwanted activities…

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