PONI Debates the Issues Blog

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It has been nearly a year since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a historic agreement that after years of negotiation was meant to walk Iran back from the brink of “going nuclear” and reintegrate it into the global economy. Although Iran has abided by the terms of the agreement, the country has yet to feel the economic relief that it was promised in exchange for constraints on its nuclear program. Iranian optimism surrounding the prospect of economic relief is…

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If We Were Them, Would We Be Deterred?

When I began my career, I remember hearing senior leaders talk about the success of deterrence during the Cold War and it was summed up best by Ambassador Paul Nitze when he said he wanted the Soviets to conclude every day when they examined the situation, "Not Today Comrade." The answer was known then why their conclusion was "not today." The reward was not worth the risk. Looking at the present situation, do our adversaries all reach the same conclusion? Are they being deterred or just…

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Losing the Nuclear Edge

Photo courtesy of US Air Force: http://www.af.mil/News/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000776419

The need to recruit and retain scientists and engineers remains a common theme among U.S. government agencies. The nuclear enterprise is no exception. Throughout the Department of Energy and Department of Defense, the colloquially named "gray beards" provide the technical expertise. The average age of engineers involved in all aspects of the nuclear enterprise from stockpile stewardship to nuclear monitoring and forensics is increasing as it becomes more difficult to…

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Nuclear Semantics

Hot off the heels of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, the international community is once again abuzz with plans to secure nuclear materials and thwart the efforts of terrorists to acquire these materials. Chief among these efforts is securing nuclear and radiological materials. Are these…

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photo courtesy of http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/duck-and-cover-drill.jpg If you ask young children around elementary schools in southern California what to do during an earthquake, they will enthusiastically demonstrate how to hide under their desk (as an adult this may be much more difficult than it sounds) and how to get outside quickly to their teacher’s meeting point once the shaking has stopped. In Kansas, students start drilling for…

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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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Right now, the world’s attention is focused firmly on the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. But there is another country that deserves at least as much attention, if not more: North Korea. The hermit kingdom’s nuclear weapons program is looking more and more dangerous these days; in April, Admiral William Gortney…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Center for Strategic and International Studies or the Project on Nuclear Issues. The content of this web site does not constitute an endorsement by or opinion of the Department of Defense or any sponsor of the Project on Nuclear Issues.