Recent Publications

2024 Annual Symposium

2024 Annual Symposium

The National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction (CSWMD) invites you to join us on 20-21 June 2024 for the virtual Annual CSWMD Symposium "Lenses and Mirrors: Reflecting on 30 Years of the WMD Spectrum."

Technical experts from Nigeria's Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT) stand over the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) and prepare to load the HEU reactor core into an Interim Transfer Cask. (NNSA)

Designating North Korean Nuclear Weapons as Proliferation Risks: A Proposal for Forestalling Major Power Conflicts in the Event of North Korea's Internal Collapse

A potential North Korean internal collapse would pose enormous challenges to South Korea, to include the risk of catalyzing a major U.S.-China crisis. Creative diplomacy by Seoul, however, could lay the groundwork for all three states to designate North Korea's nuclear weapons as "proliferation risks" within a notional future crisis, providing common ground for Washington and Beijing--who have worked together on key nonproliferation initiatives in the past--to tacitly cooperate on (or at least de-conflict) efforts to address the security threats posed by Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal within a dynamic internal conflict environment.

An image of the variola virus, which causes smallpox. Researchers working with independent funds resurrected an extinct relative of the virus, the horsepox virus, in a study published in 2018.

Private-sector research could pose a pandemic risk. Here’s what to do about it

Despite the increasing amounts of privately funded life science research, there is very little government regulation over private sector activities that might generate enhanced potential pandemic pathogens – germs that might not only trigger a pandemic, but that have been engineered to make them more virulent or more transmissible. This article discusses mechanisms, both legally binding and voluntary, that can broaden the reach of these oversight policies to cover all relevant work, not just the government-funded part of it.

Article on the Turkey's future in NATO.

Turkey’s Future in NATO: Asset or Liability?

Recent disputes with other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), engagement with Russia, and domestic democratic-backsliding call into question the value Turkey brings to the NATO alliance. In this article, Mr. Paul J. David-Justus examines the history of Turkey’s membership in NATO, the challenges Turkish domestic and foreign policy pose to the alliance’s objectives, the advantages and liabilities it brings to the alliance, and the options regarding the future of Turkey’s role in NATO.


Through a Glass, A Little Less Darkly: North Korean Nuclear Command and Control in Light of Recent Developments

North Korea’s new nuclear policy law points to the dilemma Kim Jong Un faces as he tries to reconcile competing strategic objectives: maximizing the deterrence value and operational utility of his growing nuclear capability while preserving his absolute political authority. This article discusses North Korea’s approach to nuclear command and control in the context of its unique governing system and political culture.

Research article.

North Korean Nuclear Command and Control: Alternatives and Implications

This study examines alternative approaches North Korea could take for command and control of its nuclear forces (NC2) as it makes critical choices on the type of nuclear strategy and posture it wishes to adopt. The report helps fill an important analytical gap in current assessments of North Korea, examines implications of North Korea’s choices for U.S. and South Korean deterrence strategies and defense planning, and helps shed light on the most recent announcements made by North Korea concerning its nuclear forces.

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