At the beginning of 2018, it almost looked like global nuclear threats were in retreat. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made conciliatory overtures, and saber-rattling notwithstanding, all parties to the Iran nuclear deal were still in. Not anymore. Today, Pyongyang shows no signs of denuclearization, and the United States has pulled out of the Iran agreement, much increasing the odds that Tehran will try to build a Bomb. Meanwhile a pillar of nuclear arms control, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty between the United States and Russia, has come apart amid mutual recriminations.
The Bulletin’s regular columnists covered all this as well as developments in climate change, artificial intelligence, biosecurity, and disinformation. Deep experts in their respective fields, our contributors excel at context and backstory, and their reports are some of the most prescient anywhere. For your reading pleasure this last week of the year, we have assembled the most topical, relevant, and insightful columns of 2018, pieces that explain not only what is happening now, but what to expect tomorrow and beyond.
By Ariane Tabatabai
Tabatabai has covered the blow-by-blow of the Iranian nuclear agreement for the last several years, but sometimes it takes a new angle—like an analysis of social media trends—to give readers a fresh perspective. In this story, illustrated with Instagram posts, she distills the political messaging behind the memes.
Michael C. Horowitz
As Horowitz writes, “Artificial intelligence is not a weapon.” From a military perspective, it “is an enabler, much likeelectricityand the combustion engine.” Since it was published in April, this piece has become an essential reference on how militaries are exploiting AI.
By Laura H. Kahn
We publish good news, too. Kahn’s piece tells the story of a scientist breeding a “super plant”—a type of chick pea—that will be able to feed the masses and also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
By Duyeon Kim
Kim, who is based in Seoul and covered the US-North Korean summit from Singapore, delivers real talk on what to expect from Pyongyang: “Nothing in the Singapore Joint Statement issued by the two leaders immediately prohibited nuclear activity, committed Pyongyang to ending its nuclear business as usual, or in any way altered the North Korean nuclear threat.”
By Dawn Stover
Charging a fee to carbon emitters is an idea with serious conservative cred, a genuine market-based solution to global warming. So why are so many Republican politicians opposed?
By Pavel Podvig
“The decision to scrap the INF Treaty endangers the entire architecture of nuclear arms control agreements,” Podvig writes. Wondering who is responsible for the breakdown of this important deal? It’s complicated.
By Filippa Lentzos
Bioweapons are dangerous, disinformation about bioweapons potentially more so. In November, Lentzos was part of a group who visited the Lugar Center for Public Health Research in the Republic of Georgia, which is the subject of Moscow’s latest infowar effort. Here she relates how and why Russia is spreading false claims about Pentagon labs on its borders.
By Jeff Terry
With no long-term storage solution in sight, waste from US nuclear power plants just keeps piling up. Terry proposes at least moving it away from shuttered reactors so that communities can have their land back.