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Kingston Reif

Kingston Reif

Articles by Kingston Reif

6 March 2013

Nuclear weapons cuts will make the United States safer

Kingston Reif

Nuclear arms control is back in the news.

8 February 2013

Does missile defense work?

Kingston Reif

After launching a rocket in December and vowing to conduct a third nuclear test, North Korea followed up last week by saying it would take measures "stronger than a nuclear test" and releasing a bizarre YouTube video that appeared to depict a rocket attacking an American city. (The video has since been removed from YouTube; excerpts and commentary can be watched here.)

15 January 2013

Nuclear myths (and realities)

Kingston Reif

As the Obama administration contemplates further changes to US nuclear policy and posture in its second term, it will no doubt encounter opposition from those who argue that the world is too dangerous and complex to permit further reductions in US and global nuclear force levels. Critics will make many assertions in support of their case, but two claims in particular are likely to underpin their defense of the status quo.

22 October 2012

Romney strikes out on nukes

Kingston Reif

Last month, I profiled President Barack Obama's record on nuclear threat reduction during his first term. I concluded that, while the president has taken impressive initial steps to reduce nuclear stockpiles, secure vulnerable nuclear materials, and retard the spread of nuclear weapons, key elements of his ambitious agenda remain unfinished.

17 September 2012

Prague, revisited

Kingston Reif

Few national security issues are as important to President Barack Obama as reducing the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Obama devoted his first major foreign policy speech as president to the subject in April 2009 in Prague, where he pledged America's commitment to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons. In particular, the president laid out a series of interim steps that the United States must take to reduce the risk of a nuclear catastrophe.

27 August 2012

Cold comfort

Kingston Reif

As the plausible military rationales for nuclear weapons continue to deteriorate in the aftermath of the Cold War, political and psychological rationales for nuclear weapons -- like providing reassurance to US allies -- are increasingly viewed to be just as important as deterrence.

2 August 2012

Whither the anti-terrorism budget?

Kingston Reif

Nuclear terrorism is the ultimate preventable catastrophe. If highly enriched uranium and plutonium are adequately secured or eliminated, they cannot be stolen for use in a nuclear device. In 2011, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper noted that "poorly secured stocks of [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials] provide potential source material for terror attacks." Osama bin Laden may be dead, but the threat of nuclear terrorism remains.

22 June 2012

13 days -- and what was learned

Kingston Reif

The most dangerous moment of the nuclear age -- and likely any age -- unfolded 50 years ago as the world waited and trembled. For 13 harrowing days, the leaders of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba brought the planet within a hair's breadth of nuclear catastrophe. Despite the seemingly halcyon stability of deterrence throughout the Cold War, there were numerous moments during the Cuban Missile Crisis that could have escalated into full-blown nuclear war.

10 May 2012

The politics of reduction

Kingston Reif

One of the perks of being a Republican president in the United States is the freedom to make drastic changes to US nuclear posture while Democratic presidents are forced to travel a much tougher road, often in the pursuit of far less ambitious goals. This pattern has been ongoing since the end of the Cold War and sadly continues unabated today.

9 April 2012

The case for the CTBT: Stronger than ever

Kingston Reif

In his April 2009 speech in Prague, President Barack Obama outlined a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and pledged to "immediately and aggressively" pursue approval of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which prohibits any nuclear test explosions that produce a self-sustaining, supercritical chain reaction and creates a robust international verification regime.

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