In their article on China’s security agenda in the South China Sea, experts John Lewis and Xue Litai quote Chinese president Xi Jinping: “History and experience tell us that a country will rise if it commands the oceans well and will fall if it surrenders them.”
This special issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists illustrates the rapidly changing power equations on display across—and beneath—the world’s oceans and how those changes could soon affect everything from global internet access to the nuclear deterrent strategies of the world’s nuclear powers. Read it to explore in-depth analyses of China in the Spratly Islands, the increasing vulnerability of nuclear-armed submarines, Russia’s doomsday drone, and much more.
China’s security agenda transcends the South China Sea, John W. Lewis and Xue Litai, Stanford University
China’s massive reclamation and construction campaign in the Spratly Islands has complicated and worsened the US-China rivalry, and security communities in both countries recognize that these actions could erupt into armed crises.
Rip currents: The dangers of nuclear-armed submarine proliferation, Andrew C. Winner and Ryan W. French, US Naval War College
When it comes to nuclear-armed submarines, the global status quo is transforming rapidly. Over the past several years, new players have entered the scene—including India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel—which means that stability is becoming challenged.
Sea changes: The future of nuclear deterrence,James R. Holmes, US Naval War College
New technology is empowering navies to peer underneath the sea, finding deep-running submarines more effectively than ever before. This calls into question the invulnerability of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines, previously the most invulnerable retaliatory asset there is.
Undersea cables and the future of submarine competition, Bryan Clark, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
Today nearly all voice and Internet traffic, including essential military and financial transmissions, travels through undersea fiber-optic cables. Even temporary damage to these lines of communications can have serious consequences, which is why their future security depends on how well nations understand and exploit the next wave of submarine technology.
Would Russia's undersea "doomsday drone" carry a cobalt bomb? Edward Moore Geist, Stanford University
Following the November 2015 “leak” of a classified slide purporting to show a Russian nuclear-armed drone intended to create long-lasting “zones of extensive radiological contamination,” many have suggested that Moscow may be developing a cobalt bomb.
Russia’s underwater “doomsday drone”: Science fiction, but real danger, Igor Sutyagin, Royal United Services Institute
In examining that same classified slide that Edward Moor Geist writes about, the author points out that the drone itself does not fit the Russian pattern of maintaining absolute, centralized control over nuclear weapons delivery. But the leaked video is still a cause for concern.
This issue’s Nuclear Notebook looks at Chinese nuclear forces, 2016, by Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, Federation of American Scientists.
Also in this issue:
Unveiling the aftermath of nuclear war.Bulletin associate editor Dawn Stover interviews Susan Southard, author of the highly-acclaimed book Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War.
The myths and costs of autonomous weapon systems. Robert R. Hoffman, Timothy M. Cullen, and John K. Hawley point out that the human costs of autonomous weapons systems should have fallen as the Army and Air Force became more accustomed to them. But the opposite has occurred.
Frankensteins and space odysseys: Our history with technology, our future with machines. Brad Allenby reviews the books Cyber-Humans: Our Future with Machines, by Woodrow Barfield and World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet, by Michael Chorost by examining the complex relationship humans have always had with their technologies.
Global Forum: What if there is a next time? Preparedness after Chernobyl and Fukushima. Over a single April day in 1986, a little-known place called Chernobyl became infamous. Are nations adequately prepared for a "next one?"
Editor's Note, Lucien Crowder
What if there's a next time? Preparedness after Chernobyl and Fukushima.A European-American response, by Sonja D. Schmid
What if there's a next time? Preparedness after Chernobyl and Fukushima. An Indian response, by Manpreet Sethi
What if there's a next time? Preparedness after Chernobyl and Fukushima. A Cameroonian response, by Augustin Simo
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