This year, the Donald J. Trump administration will review the state of U.S. nuclear forces, the nation’s nuclear policy and posture, and how it fits the current and emerging strategic environment. With that review comes an opportunity to communicate to friends and adversaries alike that deterrence has returned to the ...

At 12:00PM on Friday, Jan. 20, the nuclear “football,” a briefcase containing the launch codes for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, was passed to a new Commander-in-Chief. Donald Trump enters the Oval Office at a time of dual necessity: U.S. nuclear forces, which include 6,800 nuclear weapons, are in need of ...

Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s speech has triggered fevered speculation about the possibility of an impending North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, even provoking President-elect Donald Trump to tweet, “it won’t happen.”  Yet for anyone paying attention to North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the prospect of ...

In our graduate school, we emphasize the importance of understanding the history, culture, and political system of an adversary, which often gives you a better appreciation of how they view strategic issues of geopolitical concern.  When the students discuss tension with North Korea, we note the 2000 years of recorded ...

As the incoming administration continues to define its contours, and as President-elect Donald Trump begins to outline a foreign policy strategy for the next four years, it’s worth reassessing the U.S.  approach toward one of Washington’s persistent challenges: North Korea. Earlier this month, the Obama administration named the Democratic People’s ...

In a Presidential race dominated by immigration, trade, and an almost unprecedented level of political mudslinging, one could be forgiven for missing moderator Lester Holt’s question on nuclear “No First Use” (NFU) policy in the first Presidential debate of 2016. However, the issue of NFU has quietly become a hotly ...

Since June 2016, there has been a spirited debate in Washington regarding the U.S. adoption of a No-First-Use (NFU) policy. A NFU policy would be a U.S. declaration that it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons; their use would be limited to a possible U.S. response to ...

Geopolitical tensions have risen in Europe since the Russia-Ukraine crisis in 2014; in South Asia with the flare-up in Kashmir; and in East Asia with the growing assertiveness of China in its maritime territorial disputes and the continuing series of nuclear tests by North Korea. As a consequence, nuclear risks ...

The conditions under which a U.S. president might use nuclear weapons has in recent weeks become a topic of national conversation. Toward the end of the first presidential debate on September 27, moderator Lester Holt asked Republican nominee Donald Trump if he supported the adoption of declared policy that the ...

The latest North Korean nuclear test has caused the international community to once again reexamine all of the available policy options for how to hinder and eventually end North Korea’s nuclear program and create a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula. The Cipher Brief spoke with former CIA leadership analyst Soo Kim ...

There is a small window of time for the United States and its allies to determine what kind of nuclear technologies are delivered to Tehran, and by whom. And the clock is already ticking. The spokesman of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization recently announced that Tehran is holding talks with foreign ...

The latest North Korean nuclear test was the largest to date, yet the international consensus on a response is as fractured and indecisive as ever. In the days following the test, China announced that it opposed the unilateral sanctions pursued by Japan. The United States is in support of sanctions, ...

The fifth North Korean nuclear test has left policy makers scrambling for both short term and long term solutions to a problem that, so far, has no solution. Many experts have called for a return to a multilateral negotiation framework such as the Six Party Talks. The Cipher Brief spoke ...

The United States and its allies in East Asia have had sound reasons for the current approach to dealing with North Korea.  However, it carries with it a danger exemplified by the latest and largest North Korean nuclear test.  North Korea has been rightly dubbed by many experienced diplomats, the ...

North Korea announced Friday morning that it had successfully conducted its fifth nuclear test at the subterranean Punggye-ri test site. The U.S. geological survey confirmed a 5.3 magnitude earthquake nearby, stating that it was caused by an “explosion.” In an official statement, Pyongyang declared it had tested a "nuclear warhead ...

Iran has deployed a Russian-made air defense system around its underground Fordow nuclear facility, state media reported this week. Given the timing of the announcement, it’s a move that can be seen as a political effort by the regime’s leadership to try to maintain an “atmosphere of alarm” domestically to ...

Yesterday, at 5:30am Pyongyang time, North Korea achieved what, as little as two years ago, many experts thought was impossible: it test launched a missile from a submarine that traveled over 500km. This unexpected success is worrisome for several reasons. Aside from the technical leap forward that the test demonstrates, ...

In a town filled with a seemingly endless number of acronyms, none are dreaded as much as ISIS and WMD—especially when put together.  Recent allegations that ISIS is seeking nuclear material for a dirty bomb has exacerbated fears that ISIS could inspire a WMD attack outside of the Middle East, ...

The Paris attacks last year bought home that ISIL intends to terrorise all those who oppose the group, wherever they may be.  Outside the Syria and Iraq environs, ISIL strives for evermore spectacular attacks with ever more shocking outcomes.  The 130 dead in Paris came just after 228 (mainly Russians) ...

While debate continues over whether the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses an immediate threat to the United States and Europe, there is little doubt ISIL has developed a chemical weapons capability. In February, U.S. officials acknowledged that ISIL was likely responsible for mustard gas attacks in ...

At a time when the world’s attention is focused on terrorist bombings and beheadings, as well as the fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, little notice is being paid to a mini-revival of the superpowers’ nuclear arms race. Five decades ago, that arms race led to Moscow and Washington spending ...