International Security Studies
This article appeared in the Winter 2002-2003 issue of Survival, The International Institute of Strategic Studies.
From the Los Alamos National Laboratory to meetings in Moscow, former weapons designer Stephen M. Younger has witnessed firsthand the making of nuclear policy. He traces nuclear history from the Manhattan Project to present day in his new book, The Bomb: A New History.
Although Iran’s mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle presents an inherent option for creating a bomb, the Tehran regime has no urgent incentive to build nuclear weapons. Current U.S. policy, which emphasizes coercive sanctions and diplomatic isolation to compel Iran to comply with its obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), would fall squarely under the rubric of containment, even as the term has been eschewed and delegitimized in the U.S. policy debate. As long as Iran does not overtly cross the U.S. “red line” of weaponization, U.S. policy will likely remain containment in form, if not in name.
In a wide-ranging interview on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Harman discussed transparency in counter-terrorism, the China diplomatic controversy, the private sector's role in enhancing the nation's cyber-security, and the anniversary of the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Conventional wisdom about the 3/11 attacks is that it was a local, isolated terrorist cell at work. But the character of the attacks suggest Islamic jihadist terrorists as more likely perpetrators, explained Fernando Reinares, director of the Program on Global Terrorism in Madrid's Elcano Royal Institute.
The role that nuclear weapons play in international politics and security is evolving. For wealthy, militarily powerful countries, nuclear weapons are playing a diminishing role in security planning. Conversely, some countries that lack advanced military capabilities may be coming to see nuclear weapons as increasingly important for their security. The differences between these two groups are reinforced by the fact that, over the past decade, two dictators who ended their nuclear programs have lost their regimes and their lives. As a result, authoritarian leaders may now have an increasingly personal interest in holding on to their nuclear ambitions. U.S. interests can be advanced by minimizing the association that has developed over the past decade between ending nuclear weapons programs, ending regimes, and ending authoritarian leaders’ lives.