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HOME > TOPICS > Missiles, Defenses, and Space      
Missiles, Defenses, and Space
Feb 22, 2021 Limiting Missiles: What We're Up against
 After the renewal of New START, the Biden Administration has its work cut out for it to reach additional arms control agreements with Russia or China. In the short run, neither Moscow nor Beijing seems likely to strike a major deal. Things look a bit more optimistic in the long run but whatever agreements can be reached will have to focus far more sharply on limiting missiles and drones.  The attached NPEC-commissioned research, “Long-Term Prospects for Missile Controls,” by David Cooper of the U.S. Naval War College, explains why. Dr. Cooper makes a compelling case that controlling precise missiles and their related enabling systems (e.g., GPS and imaging satellites) will be at least as important as controlling nuclear warheads. He also makes several specific recommendations to focus future arms control negotiations.  Attached is a brief video of a presentation he gave last night at NPEC’s research retreat. It is sure to draw you in and make you want to read his longer analysis (also attached).     
Articles; Audio & Video
Feb 22, 2021 NPEC's Public Policy Fellowship Research Retreat 2021
Audio & Video
Feb 19, 2021 Turkey's Nuclear Reactor: A Tempting Target?
As the controversy between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s deployment of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft and missile systems continues to simmer, there is a different air defense concern that both the US and Turkey should discuss – the vulnerability of nuclear reactors to accurate missiles and drone attacks. In Turkey’s case, this problem was highlighted last month by a large explosion at the construction site of its first commercial nuclear power plant. In the attached piece in The National Interest, “Turkey’s Nuclear Reactor: A Tempting Target,” Wohlstetter Fellow John Spacapan and I explain how the construction site explosion set Turkish locals at Akkuyu on edge. According to the building contractor, the explosion, which caused serious damage to surrounding homes and injured two people, was “planned.” Those living near the plant, though, had a different take. They’re concerned that this explosion was no mishap and that it presages a more catastrophic accident in the future. The plant, they point out, sits on a seismic fault. What no one has paid enough attention to, however, is that future disasters could be planned by local terrorists. Recently, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist organization used drones to attack a military base. It could, if it chose, attack the nuclear plant at Akkuyu with its armed drones, which are capable of travelling 60 miles and fast enough to outwit Turkey’s military jamming technology. The possible knock-on effects of such a strike include inducing public panic to igniting a spent fuel fire that could mimic Chernobyl.  What should we do? John and I recommend that the Biden Administration quietly encourage Ankara to drop its controversial nuclear power plans. Turkish critics of the Akkuyu project, including the Republican People’s Party, Turkey’s largest opposition Party, argue it would be far cheaper and safer to kill the reactor project and invest instead in renewables and natural gas. Washington and others should help Turkey with those alternatives. 
Op-Eds & Blogs
Feb 16, 2021 New Frontiers for Security Cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo (Occasional Paper 2101)
Among the first phone calls President Joe Biden made to foreign leaders after his election were to Japanese president Yoshihide Suga and South Korean president Moon Jae-in. His intent was to clarify America's desire to strengthen its security ties with both nations. Besides quickly resolving existing agreements for basing US troops in each state, though, the question is how. NPEC has been holding private workshops since early 2018 to get the answer. Attached is the result — a nine-chapter analysis of our alliance ties with Tokyo and Seoul that identiies six areas for increased security cooperation:  Artificial intelligence (AI)  5G  Reducing the vulnerability of civilian infrastructure to missile and drone strikes  Anti-submarine warfare  Competing with China’s One Belt One Road Initiative Military space  The specific recommendations for increasing cooperation in these areas are detailed in the report’s executive summary. Most of them have yet to be acted upon. The report lays out what to do.   
Occasional Papers & Monographs
Jan 06, 2021 How to Think about Our Rivalry with China and Russia
On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Henry Sokolski gave an interview with The John Batchelor Show. We’re trading a lot, at least with China; quite unlike the Cold War.  Another complication is that our ideological opposition to what's going on in China and Russia is a lot less than the fear and loathing were during the Cold War. Finally, our allies have reason to want to do business with them.  China’s and Russia’s militaries work hand in glove with each other. A change is that many people know the malice of China in intentionally releasing the virus, with over 300,000 deaths.  However, many of China’s trading partners want nothing to do with China’s strategic cooperation. South Korea wants to rejoin with the North; not fully [aligned] with Japan. India and Australia.  A lot of other stuff needs attending to beneath that. It's a lot more complicated than formerly. Space: does this moot the success of strategic arms treaties of the last century?  No.  . . . an upcoming period of US vulnerability is space. Deterrence: a different meaning from during Cold War; no longer based in seas, air, ground, but on eyes, ears, voice from space. Absent these, a sort of lobotomy.      
Interviews; Audio & Video
Nov 05, 2020 Three Neglected Space Issues: Laser ASATs, Cooperation with China and Russia, and Space Secrecy
Earlier this summer, NPEC and the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security held their fifth space policy workshop, “Three Neglected Space Issues: Laser ASAT's, Cooperation with China and Russia, and Space Secrecy.” Attached is the workshop report. Very little has been said publicly about the Chinese and Russian ground-based anti-satellite weapon threat. The first panel clarified this threat. Like rendezvous satellites, ground-based lasers have perfectly legitimate civilian applications. However, they also can be used to disrupt, dazzle, and destroy important military satellites. Some technical fixes against this threat are possible. It also would be desirable to have certain rules governing the operations of these ground-based systems. Devising either set of fixes, however, are not possible without discussing these matters in a more open fashion. The second panel focused on how excessive secrecy is hobbling America’s military space programs and related space control diplomacy. The details of how self-defeating some forms of secrecy are and what should be done about it were extensively discussed. Finally, the third panel focused on space cooperation with Russia and China. What is the future of such cooperation? Might more cooperation help sort out rules for military space operations or is additional space cooperation ill-advised? On these matters, the participant’s views were divided: Some thought space cooperation was the best way to promote needed space control rules; others believed it would be unlikely China would ever comply. Below is the workshop’s report. The impressive list of speakers and participants included James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers former Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Michael Gold, acting associate NASA administrator, and Simon “Pete” Worden of Breakthrough Initiatives.
Testimony & Transcripts
Oct 31, 2020 A China Wargame for the New Administration
As President Biden fills out his national security team, deterring Chinese adventurism, particularly towards Taiwan, will be necessary to keep the peace. Last October, NPEC conducted a series of wargames that had Beijing stopping all cargo ships bound for Taiwan and demanding that they pay a duty to Mainland China. Attached is a final report on these games, which engaged 20 Hill, Pentagon, State, and Intelligence Community staff. Although the United States and its Pacific allies did all they could to avoid military conflict in the games, a shooting war ensued. Fortunately, the U.S. and its allies were able to produce a stalemate without going nuclear. There were two important take-aways. The first is that the United States needs to work more vigorously with its Indo-Pacific allies to deter Beijing from using military force to intimidate Taiwan and China’s other neighbors. The report lists several ways to do this.  Second, the U.S. needs to revitalize its efforts to dissuade Japan and South Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons. This needs to begin now, before any regional crisis, such as an invasion of Taiwan, might prompt Japan or South Korea to get their own nuclear weapons. Any such U.S.-led nonproliferation effort must also address China’s nuclear materials and weapons build-up.   
Wargame Reports
Oct 21, 2020 "What Missile-driven Competition with China Will Look Like," American Purpose
Earlier this week, administration officials said they were close to reaching an agreement with Moscow to extend the New START arms control agreement for an additional year. They made it clear that they wanted to use the year to get China to join the talks with Washington and Moscow. Assuming this takes place, though, what would the US, Russia, and China talk about? In the short-run, it's unclear. In the long-run, the matter of China's missiles (they have more than anyone else) must come up. In the below analysis published by American Purpose, I look out the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years.  The United States and its allies have their work cut out for them. China is likely to bubild up its nuclear and conventional missile forces even further in an attempt to gain advantage over the United States and its friends not just in the Western Pacific, but globally. The United States and its friends, however, can and will compete militarily and diplomatically, all of which is discussed below. 
Articles; Op-Eds & Blogs
Sep 16, 2020 Accurate Missile Strikes against Reactors: New Nuclear Worries
 On September 16, 2020, NPEC Executive Director Henry Sokolski gave a lecture to University of California, Berkeley, students on the subject of "Accurate Missile Stikes against Reactors: New Nuclear Worries." 
Presentations; Audio & Video
Aug 13, 2020 Space: The New Frontline of Deterrence
In 1914, the vanguard of battle started its slow transition from the trenches and near seas to the clouds. By mid-century, air power placed the Superpowers' defense in the hands of their air forces. Get ready for the next revolution. The frontlines of strategic deterrence (nuclear and nonnuclear) are now gravitating away from the Earth's surface into space where the eyes, ears, and nervous system of the world's economy and militaries increasingly reside. Will America be able to operate effectively in this new theater with Russia and China and the world's other spacefaring nations? What will keeping the peace and prevailing in war now entail?  NPEC commissioned Peter Garretson, an independent space consultant, formerly with the U.S. Air University Air Command and Staff College, to get the answers. His take, contained in the attached study, "What War in Space Might Look Like Circa 2030-2040?," clarifies perhaps the most important comment made int he U.S. Space Force's recently released Spacepower: Doctrine for Space Forces. That observation is that although the "entirety of economic and military space activities" is confined to space out to 24,000 miles from Earth or below (known as "geocentric regime"), America's space investments and interests are likely to expand beyond this to include space activities near, on, and beyond the Moon.  Mr. Garretson drives home the implications of this conclusion by delineating what America's military interests are now -- anchored to activities on Earth -- and what they soon enough may become -- activities more independent of earthly endeavors. To be sure, this transition may sound unrealistic until you consider that Russia, China, the European Union, Japan, and India all have already conducted missions to the Moon and plan soon to return, as does the United States. What are the military security uses and requirements for operating at or below 24,000 miles from Earth as compared to operating beyond? How might conflict arise in space closer to Earth compared to well beyond it in deep space? The short answer is that they are quite different. The trick will be knowing when and how to adjust U.S. and allied expenditures and strategies to deal with both. Towards this end, Peter's work is a first-rate place to begin. 
Occasional Papers & Monographs
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