The Scowcroft Center’s namesake, General Brent Scowcroft, was the chairman of the 1983 Scowcroft Commission that established the foundation for US nuclear deterrence and arms control policy through the present day. As the United States enters a new era of strategic challenges, the Scowcroft Center’s Forward Defense program is proud to play a central role in crafting an effective and nonpartisan strategic forces strategy and policy for the twenty-first century.

The 2022 National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review caution that the United States will, for the first time in its history, face the challenge of simultaneously deterring two nuclear great powers, each with aggressive revisionist goals. Our Nuclear Strategy Project, within the Forward Defense program, focuses on the role of nuclear deterrence, nuclear strategy and employment, missile defense, and arms control in deterring conventional aggression and nuclear escalation against the United States, its allies, and partners.

Principal research areas

Nuclear Strategy

Shape US nuclear strategy and implications for extended deterrence, allied assurance, and nuclear escalation.

Inform the national and/or international debate concerning potential changes in nuclear strategy and nuclear force structure.

Assess the changing requirements for extended deterrence and assurance of allies under nuclear triploarity.

Arms Control

Understand and shape the changing nature of and role for arms control in the new trilateral security environment.

Assess the relationship between US nuclear deterrence requirements and nuclear arms control to inform US negotiating positions for a potential future arms control framework.

Missile Defense

Shape the relationship between homeland missile defense and US nuclear strategy as it relates to North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China.

Anticipate and inform the national and international debate on new technologies for missile defense and its implications for strategic stability.

Emerging Threats

Assess the implications of new threats and technologies for US nuclear deterrence and strategy.

Understand and assess which threats have the greatest potential for affecting the military balance and nuclear deterrence.

Must Reads

Report

Feb 2, 2024

Requirements for nuclear deterrence and arms control in a two-nuclear-peer environment

By Greg Weaver and Amy Woolf

Gregory Weaver and Amy Woolf discuss the future of US nuclear posture and arms control, as the United States will soon face two adversaries with peer nuclear arsenals.

Arms Control China

Commentary & quick analysis

New Atlanticist

Feb 15, 2024

Russian nuclear anti-satellite weapons would require a firm US response, not hysteria

By Clementine G. Starling, Mark J. Massa

If fielded, such weapons would directly challenge norms of responsible behavior in space and present a serious risk to all nations’ satellites.

Arms Control Russia

Experts react

Feb 15, 2024

Experts react: What to know about Russia’s apparent plans for a space-based nuclear weapon

By Atlantic Council experts

Reports that Russia is developing a space-based nuclear anti-satellite weapon have raised national security concerns in Washington.

Defense Policy National Security

New Atlanticist

Nov 28, 2023

As the US faces down new nuclear threats, will Cold War solutions work once again?

By Alyxandra Marine

The tripolar nuclear power world is certainly new; but the deterrence theories of the Cold War may not need to be completely changed, our experts find.

China Nuclear Deterrence

New Atlanticist

Nov 15, 2023

AUKUS is hamstrung by outdated US export control rules. Here’s what Congress can do.

By Deborah Cheverton, John T. Watts

US lawmakers must show that they are willing to make the necessary changes to a needlessly limiting export control regime that does more harm than good.

Arms Control Australia

New Atlanticist

Oct 13, 2023

What needs to change about US nuclear weapons strategy?

By Atlantic Council experts

Our experts break down the 2023 Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States report.

China Indo-Pacific

Reports & issue briefs

Report

Feb 2, 2024

Requirements for nuclear deterrence and arms control in a two-nuclear-peer environment

By Greg Weaver and Amy Woolf

Gregory Weaver and Amy Woolf discuss the future of US nuclear posture and arms control, as the United States will soon face two adversaries with peer nuclear arsenals.

Arms Control China

Issue Brief

Jan 31, 2024

A US-South Korea alliance strategic memo on deterrence

By Markus Garlauskas, Lauren D. Gilbert

With North Korea’s rapidly advancing military technology, aggressive nuclear policy changes, and deepening ties with the PRC making deterrence on the Korean Peninsula increasingly more complex, this is how the US and South Korea can shore up cooperative deterrence and boost alliance resilience.

China Defense Policy
Snow leopard in the rain

Atlantic Council Strategy Paper Series

Jan 17, 2024

Six ‘snow leopards’ to watch for in 2024

Atlantic Council foresight experts spot the underappreciated phenomena that could have outsize impact on the world, driving global change and shaping the future.

Climate Change & Climate Action Defense Technologies
Image for Deliberate nuclear use in a war over Taiwan: Scenarios and considerations for the United States

Report

Nov 30, 2023

Deliberate nuclear use in a war over Taiwan: Scenarios and considerations for the United States

By Matthew Kroenig

Matthew Kroenig argues the US and the PRC would have incentives to use nuclear weapons in a Taiwan war. The US must deter PRC nuclear use.

Arms Control China

Issue Brief

Nov 22, 2023

The role of nuclear weapons in a Taiwan crisis

By Gregory Weaver

Nuclear deterrence would be key in a Taiwan crisis, in part because a PLA amphibious fleet would be vulnerable to a US nuclear strike.

China Conflict

Past events

In the news

In the News

Jan 29, 2024

IPSI report on deterrence in Korea cited across major media platforms

This month, IPSI’s latest report, Deterrence is crumbling in Korea: How we can fix it, has been cited in Reuters, the Washington Post, and Newsweek. These articles highlighted several key points from the report, including its warning that although Kim Jong Un is unlikely to pursue a full-scale nuclear war, North Korea still has the […]

China Indo-Pacific

In the News

Jan 22, 2024

Narang on the State of the World podcast

Neil Narang joins the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation’s State of the World podcast

China Conflict

In the News

Jan 15, 2024

IPSI report on simultaneous conflicts referenced in VOA

On January 14, IPSI’s report, “The United States and its allies must be ready to deter a two-front war and nuclear attacks in East Asia,” was referenced in a VOA article, which underscored the report’s warning about the potential for China to target US bases in South Korea in a conflict with the United States.

Arms Control China

In the News

Dec 30, 2023

Soofer on Voice of America on North Korean missile threat

By Atlantic Council

Robert Soofer speaks on Voice of America to discuss the rising missile threat from North Korea.

Arms Control China

In the News

Dec 20, 2023

Hinata-Yamaguchi quoted in NK News on trilateral information sharing

On December 19, IPSI nonresident senior fellow Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi was quoted in NK News on US-Japan-ROK trilateral sharing of information on North Korean missile launches. 

Indo-Pacific Intelligence

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Forward Defense

Forward Defense, housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, generates ideas and connects stakeholders in the defense ecosystem to promote an enduring military advantage for the United States, its allies, and partners. Our work identifies the defense strategies, capabilities, and resources the United States needs to deter and, if necessary, prevail in future conflict.