Global Zero has identified four major flashpoints where the risks of nuclear conflict are extraordinarily high. The Nuclear Crisis Group — a task force of seasoned diplomats, military leaders, and national security experts from nuclear-armed and allied countries working to prevent the use of nuclear weapons — developed detailed action plans to address each flashpoint that would dramatically lower these risks as we work to eliminate these weapons worldwide. You can explore each of these nuclear flashpoints — and a menu of politically viable solutions — below.

Korean Peninsula

The Situation

The Korean Peninsula has emerged as an epicenter of nuclear tensions.

North Korea’s nuclear program has accelerated in recent years, and the increasing frequency of tests—as well as the extravagant threats traded by U.S. and North Korean leaders in 2017—stoked fears across the region and beyond.

The April 27, 2018 meeting of the South and North Korean leaders at Panmunjom offered hope of a solution to the conflict that tore the region in two seven decades ago. However, ongoing intelligence assessments, and the statements of Kim Jong Un himself, suggest that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have not been laid to rest by this latest round of diplomacy.

Recommendations

  • North Korea and the U.S. refrain from nuclear threats and adopt nuclear no-first-use statements
  • North and South Korea fully and consistently implement communication links between their military leaders
  • North Korea, the U.S. and South Korea refrain from provocative military actions that could escalate to nuclear conflict
  • The U.S. and the international community implement progressive North Korean sanctions relief and economic assistance in parallel with progress on denuclearization

In the News

Hardball with Chris Matthews

Jon Wolfsthal, director of the Nuclear Crisis Group, makes a guest appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews to discuss President Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone.

South Asia

The Situation

India and Pakistan remain embroiled in a territorial dispute over Kashmir that has lasted nearly seven decades.Each state is expanding its nuclear arsenal and capabilities, raising the stakes further.

Most incidents take place across the Line of Control, established in 1972 as a provisional border between India- and Pakistan-controlled areas of the region. Attacks by militant groups, which India alleges have been trained by Pakistan, are an additional driver of conflict.

Territorial disputes between China and India have added an additional level of complexity to the region’s political situation.

Recommendations

  • India and Pakistan jointly declare that both seek to avoid the use of nuclear weapons
  • India and Pakistan establish bilateral norms of nuclear weapons safety and security and discuss exchanges of verifying information
  • India and Pakistan fully implement and enhance hotline agreements between national and military leadership
  • India and Pakistan commit to non-deployment and non-assembly of land and air-based nuclear weapons

In the News

U.S. | China

The Situation

In recent years, China has worked to cement its influence in the South and East China seas, including its claims on the Spratly and Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, constructing artificial islands and conducting high-profile military exercises in both areas. However, these claims are contested by several other states in the region, and United States policy supports maintaining the international status of both areas.

China seems to be rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenals, which currently stands at roughly 350 weapons, with some estimating it could double or triple in the next decade. Recent reports indicate China may be building hundreds of silos that could house new nuclear missiles. Meanwhile the U.S. continues to invest in new nuclear weapons and upgrades to the current arsenal of roughly 3,800 weapons.

Recommendations

  • China and the U.S. adopt a bilateral nuclear no-first-use agreement
  • China and the U.S. urgently expand, enhance and empower diplomatic and military-to-military dialogues to facilitate strategic stability, nuclear doctrine and transparency
  • China and the U.S. fully implement recently established bilateral agreements to avoid military accidents at sea and among aircraft in close proximity
  • China and the U.S. reaffirm efforts to preserve stability across the Taiwan Strait and reaffirm and implement reciprocal agreements not to militarize newly constructed islands in the South China Sea

In the News

U.S./NATO | Russia

The Situation

Tensions between NATO member states and Russia have been elevated since the beginning of the conflict of Ukraine in 2014, but Russia’s current drive to modernize and expand its military capabilities dates back to the beginning of President Putin’s first term, nearly two decades ago.

U.S. withdrawal from key treaties, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and Open Skies Treaty, and similar investments in upgrading and expanding its nuclear capabilities have further inflamed tensions. Both Russia and NATO have been hedging against possible future conflict with new technological capabilities, large-scale military exercises, and troop build-ups in border regions.

The extension of the Russia-U.S. New START agreement, the last treaty limiting each sides nuclear arsenals, and the resumption of Russia-U.S. strategic stability talks are welcome steps but action to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict is still urgently needed.

Recommendations

  • Russia, the U.S. and the other NATO states commit not to issue public threats of nuclear first use
  • Russia and the U.S. pursue a phased de-alerting program of all land-based nuclear-armed missiles
  • Russia and the U.s. implement existing agreements for a Joint Data Exchange Center
  • Russia and NATO states fully implement, strengthen existing, and pursue new accident-prevention agreements related to aviation and incidents-at-sea beginning with the Baltic and Black Sea regions
  • Russia and NATO states agree to limits and more transparency on military exercises
  • Russia and NATO states reinvigorate European conventional arms control efforts, including limitation of forward deployments of conventional weapons, replacement of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and modernization of the Vienna Document

In the News

BBC Sounds

Global Zero Senior Advisor Jon Wolfsthal provides comment on the Biden-Putin summit.