The Nuclear Crisis Group has identified four major flashpoints where the risks of nuclear conflict are extraordinarily high. Detailed action plans have been developed 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 US and North Korean leaders— 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

U.S. spy agencies: North Korea is working on new missiles

U.S. spy agencies are seeing signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, according to officials familiar with the intelligence.

Here's what might happen if North Korea launched a nuclear weapon

Tensions between North Korea and the US have escalated during Donald Trump’s presidency, with threatening tweets and talk about the size of each country’s nuclear “button.” But what would happen if North Korea actually decided to follow through on its threat and launch a nuke?

South Asia

The Situation

India and Pakistan remain embroiled in a territorial dispute over Kashmir that has lasted nearly seven decades.

The relatively recent acquisition of nuclear weapons by both countries has raised the stakes further, and territorial disputes between China and India have added an additional level of complexity to the region’s political situation.

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.

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.

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.

Allegations that Russia has violated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty have further inflamed tensions and prompted similar accusations of US misconduct. Both sides have been hedging against possible future conflict with new technological capabilities, large-scale military exercises, and troop build-ups in border regions.

The future of the New START treaty, a US-Russia treaty which expires in 2021 and can be extended for five additional years, remains uncertain.

Recommendations

  • The presidents of Russia and the U.S. agree to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
  • Russia and the U.S. initiate immediate and intensive discussions to resolve Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty compliance concerns
  • Russia, the U.S. and the other NATO states commit not to issue public threats of nuclear first use
  • The U.S. and Russia relaunch strategic stability talks focusing on potential dangers flowing from existing and potential nuclear deployments, doctrines and modernization programs
  • Russia and the U.S. pursue a phased de-alerting program of all land-based nuclear-armed missiles

In the News

With Russia and the US, Nuclear Risks Never Go Out of Vogue

35 years ago, Able Archer, a United States command exercise simulating the release of conventional and nuclear weapons, almost provoked the Soviet Union into starting a nuclear war. Nuclear Crisis Group Director Jon Wolfsthal analyzes this anniversary in the context of current nuclear weapons policy and US-Russia relations.