Analysis of nuclear policy has been at the core of the IISS mission since the Institute’s founding at the beginning of the Cold War. The question was how to manage international conflict without risking nuclear annihilation. A corollary quest was how to control nuclear proliferation. As the Institute approaches its 60th anniversary, these remain key research themes. The Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy (NP/NP) programme seeks to provide balanced and objective assessments of nuclear dangers and proliferation challenges and to assess policy options. The proliferation challenges go beyond nuclear, to include their missile delivery systems and chemical and biological weapons. Our research mission of averting nuclear dangers also encompasses efforts to preclude nuclear terrorism and to strive responsibly toward a nuclear-weapon-free world, one that is no less secure than today’s nuclear-armed world. We wish to help policymakers and opinion-shapers find the right balance between disarmament and deterrence, particularly in the new security landscape of a bellicose Russia and assertive China.
The NP/NP programme will continue to support international efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and deal with the most dangerous regional proliferation threats. One set of threats comes from North Korea, which will remain a focus of IISS research attention. Our research explores both the security challenges Pyongyang presents and the potential responses by its immediate neighbours and other key players.
Proliferation concerns regarding Iran have taken a new turn with the accord reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran and the six global powers plus EU. In conjunction with the IISS Transatlantic Relations programme, NP/NP is engaged in an expanded para-diplomatic project to address the Iran nuclear issue and responses by its neighbours and the major powers. In other Iran-related activity, NP/NP will aim to contribute to the implementation of the accord via regional workshops involving interested countries and international businesses. We also continue to assess issues relating to Iran’s missile programme. Other areas of NP/NP activity explore how to enhance security of nuclear materials and how nuclear energy can safely be harnessed for sustainable economic development.