The Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies has received a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for a study of the conditions needed for a stable transition to a new nuclear order, one characterized by much lower numbers of nuclear weapons than currently held by the nuclear weapon states. The project is led by Judith Reppy (Cornell University) and Catherine Kelleher (CISSM, University of Maryland) and it follows an earlier joint project that produced their edited book Getting to Zero (Stanford University Press, 2011).
The world has lived with the risk of nuclear war – and successfully avoided it – for more than six decades. Yet rising concerns over the proliferation of nuclear weapons to unstable or aggressive states and non-state actors have led to new calls for addressing the nuclear danger, including from prominent former government officials. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. government itself re-emphasized its commitment to the goal of global nuclear disarmament. But inherent in these declarations are two basic questions. The first is familiar: Is such a long-term goal is realistic, or even desirable, if it risks generating turbulence, instability, and major conflict during the transition period? A second set of questions probes more deeply into the policy issues: How does the United States define stability and its requirements to minimize risk and nuclear threats during the transition? What are the military and non-military instruments and strategies to be developed? The current project aims to produce new thinking and writing on the problems of managing a stable transition to an eventual nuclear zero and to create a network of scholars who will be encouraged to expand and further the solution of problems along the way.