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Meeting the Challenges of a New Nuclear Age

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CAMBRIDGE, MA — The world has entered a new nuclear era. No longer dominated by only two nuclear superpowers, the evolving multipolar nuclear order presents fundamental challenges to the conceptual and practical means of avoiding nuclear war. Moreover, the new era has slowly dismantled the bilateral arms control framework, with no clear prospect that it will be revived and extended. The possibility that a framework or frameworks encompassing other, let alone all, nuclear powers can be achieved seems even more remote. In addition, advances in weapons technology and the opening of new frontiers, such as cyber capabilities and artificial intelligence, make a shifting environment still more complex. The pathways to inadvertent nuclear war have multiplied across more regions and relationships.

The Spring 2020 issue of Dædalus, “Meeting the Challenges of a New Nuclear Age,” guest edited by Robert Legvold (Academy Member; Columbia University) and Christopher F. Chyba (Princeton University), is one of several research publications to come out of the Academy’s project on “Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age.” The project as well as the issue examine some of the possible escalation pathways that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

A collection of fourteen essays authored by a diverse group of security scholars, physicists, statesmen, and political scientists, this issue of Dædalus offers analyses that are sensitive to the challenges posed by a world with nine nuclear players, with a primary emphasis on the United States, Russia, and China. The focus is on salient aspects of the changes underway among the major nuclear powers. The intent is to capture the essential features of the nuclear world we have entered, to stimulate among policy-makers and the engaged public a recognition of the challenges that it poses, and to identify mitigating steps to reduce nuclear dangers.

Select essays are available online. For questions and more information, please contact daedalus@amacad.org.

The Spring 2020 issue of Dædalus on “Meeting the Challenges of a New Nuclear Age” features the following essays:

Introduction: The Search for Strategic Stability in a New Nuclear Era
Robert Legvold (Academy Member; Columbia University) & Christopher F. Chyba (Princeton University)

A Nuclear World Transformed: The Rise of Multilateral Disorder
Steven E. Miller (Academy Member; Harvard University)

Russia’s Nuclear Weapons in a Multipolar World: Guarantors of Sovereignty, Great Power Status & More
Anya Loukianova Fink (Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland) & Olga Oliker (International Crisis Group; Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies)

The Revival of Nuclear Competition in an Altered Geopolitical Context: A Chinese Perspective
Li Bin (Tsinghua University)

On Adapting Nuclear Deterrence to Reduce Nuclear Risk
Brad Roberts (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

The End of Arms Control?
Linton F. Brooks (former U.S. Ambassador)

Why Arms Control?
Jon Brook Wolfsthal(Global Zero; Nuclear Crisis Group)

What History Can Teach
James Cameron (King’s College London; University of Oslo)

Cyber Warfare & Inadvertent Escalation
James M. Acton (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

New Technologies & Strategic Stability
Christopher F. Chyba (Princeton University)

Nuclear Disarmament without the Nuclear-Weapon States: The Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty
Harald Müller (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt; Peace Research Center Prague) & Carmen Wunderlich (University of Duisburg-Essen; Peace Research Center Prague) 

A Way Forward
James Timbie (Stanford University)

Life beyond Arms Control: Moving toward a Global Regime of Nuclear Restraint & Responsibility
Nina Tannenwald (Brown University)

Conclusion: Strategic Stability & Nuclear War
Christopher F. Chyba (Princeton University) & Robert Legvold (Academy Member; Columbia University)

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Project

Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age

Chairs
Robert Legvold and Christopher F. Chyba