Grant Awarded to Program on Science and Global Security to Advance Nuclear Arms Control

A $600,000 grant was awarded to Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security (SGS) by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for work on reducing nuclear risks through research, policy engagement, and training.

The new grant will support SGS activities aiming to provide technical and policy analysis to reduce the risks from nuclear weapons and materials, respond to the rapid erosion of nuclear arms control, and address emerging technologies that could reshape the futures of both war and arms control.

SGS is based at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and is home to Science & Global Security, the leading academic peer-reviewed journal for arms control and disarmament analysis. The new award will benefit three specific areas of the program’s work.

First, the funding will help to sustain SGS as the research and administrative home of the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), a group of experts from 16 countries. It is led by SGS Co-Directors Alexander Glaser and Zia Mian and includes Frank von Hippel, a co-founder of SGS and the first co-chair of IPFM.

Through IPFM, SGS works with experts and non-governmental groups, key governments, and international organizations like the United Nations to advance initiatives to verifiably end production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, the key ingredients in nuclear weapons, and eliminate existing military and civilian stockpiles. In 2020, these efforts will focus on managing the collapse of the nuclear deal with Iran after the U.S. withdrawal, and diplomacy for the denuclearization of North Korea. At the global level, efforts will focus on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which turns 50 this year and faces a crisis due to a lack of recent progress by nuclear weapon states on their obligations to work toward arms control and disarmament, and on the new United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which may enter into force.

A second research area, to be led by Bruce Blair, research policy analyst at SGS, will engage American, Russian, and Chinese experts to define a resilient and adaptable architecture of nuclear-weapons restraint and security to reduce the risks of strategic conflict between these countries. The aim is to reduce nuclear risks at a time of growing uncertainty and instability — the United States withdrawing from long-standing arms control treaties, both the United States and Russia developing new nuclear weapons systems, and China emerging as a great power. This work will consider how to reduce the risk of a renewed nuclear arms race in alternative futures in which nuclear arms control survives or collapses entirely. Recent work by SGS involved a simulation for a plausible escalating war between the United States and Russia using realistic nuclear force postures, targets, and fatality estimates. It was estimated that there would be more than 90 million people dead and injured within the first few hours of the conflict.

Finally, Glaser and Sebastien Philippe, associate research scholar, will lead an SGS effort to assess the capabilities and potential impacts of emerging technologies on global security. The new developments include: technologies based on quantum physics that allow for much improved detection and tracking of military targets, adding both new dangers of preemptive attacks and potentially improved verification of future nuclear arms control agreements; maneuverable hypersonic weapons that can create uncertainties about their targets until the last moment; and weapons with greatly increased accuracy and autonomous targeting capabilities.

Learn more about SGS’s research projects.

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

The Carnegie Corporation of New York is America’s oldest grantmaking foundation. It was established in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation's work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.