Unblocking the Road to Zero: North Korea and Iran

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Delaying Zero:  How can Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs be stopped and even reversed?

Against the backdrop of North Korea’s nuclear test on May 25th and subsequent missile launches and the festering dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, the world’s attention is once again focused on the destabilizing dangers of nuclear weapons. While the United States and Russia seem to be making rapid progress toward further reductions in their nuclear arsenals, North Korea’s actions in particular could throw a monkey wrench into the drive to eliminate nuclear weapons.

In the fourth volume of the Nuclear Security series examining the strategic obstacles to the achievement of global zero, leading experts on Iran, Professor Anoush Ehteshami, and North Korea, Joel Wit and Leon Sigal, explore the motivations for their nuclear behavior and search for solutions that would make a worldwide move to a nuclear-weapons free world attainable.

Both nations have pursued nuclear programs outside the boundaries of their Nonproliferation Treaty obligations. Although North Korea has made clear that it intends to remain a nuclear weapon state, Iran’s ambitions are less certain and may, as its leaders maintain, be restricted to the development of nuclear energy technology for civilian purposes. These experts’ analyses make evident that underlying geo-political tensions in the respective regions need to be addressed as necessary, though perhaps not sufficient, conditions to persuade these two countries to dedicate their nuclear programs to peaceful purposes alone in a verifiable manner.

In partnership with the World Security Institute, Stimson’s project on nuclear security seeks to examine the obstacles blocking the path to zero nuclear weapons in order to help all responsible governments perceive negotiated nuclear disarmament as a viable and practical policy option.

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