How to Interpret Nuclear Crises: From Kargil to North Korea

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Watch the previously recorded livestream at the bottom of the webpage. 

With tensions mounting between the United States and North Korea, what has been clear is the wide disagreement among scholars about what constitutes a nuclear crisis, how dangerous it is, and what dynamics dictate how it plays out. The Stimson Center is pleased to host Mark Bell, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, to discuss his co-authored paper on the subject in which he and Julia MacDonald, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Denver, argue that nuclear crisis dynamics depend on incentives to use nuclear weapons first and the extent to which escalation can be controlled by leaders involved. Bell will explain four distinct models of nuclear crisis and discuss the application of this framework to the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan, and assess implications for current U.S.-North Korea tensions. Rebecca Hersman, Director of the Project on Nuclear Issues at CSIS, and Austin Long, senior political scientist at RAND, will offer comments. Sameer Lalwani, Co-Director of Stimson’s South Asia Program, will moderate the discussion.

What: An on-the-record discussion with Mark Bell on how to think about nuclear crises, and implications for South Asia as well as U.S.-North Korea tensions. Lunch will be served.  
Where: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW, 8th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036.
When: Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 12:15 P.M. – 2:00 P.M.

Mark S. Bell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. He studies issues relating to nuclear weapons and proliferation, international relations theory, and U.S. and British foreign policy and grand strategy.

Rebecca Hersman is Director of the Project on Nuclear Issues and Senior Adviser for the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for countering weapons of mass destruction from 2009 to 2015.

Austin Long is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. His research interests include low-intensity conflict, intelligence, military operations, nuclear forces, military innovation and the political economy of national security.

Sameer Lalwani is a Senior Associate and Co-Director of Stimson’s South Asia program where he researches nuclear deterrence, inter-state competition, and counterinsurgency. He is the co-editor of a new Stimson book Investigating Crises: South Asia’s Lessons, Evolving Dynamics, and Trajectories.

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