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PASCC Research
CCC is the principal research wing of the National Security Affairs Department at NPS.
PASCC Collaboration

The Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) supports research activities that benefit the public through analysis and engagement to reduce and counter the threats posed by WMD/WME. PASCC seeks to cultivate interconnected, mutually supportive national and international strategic research-community partnerships across domains. A second goal is to bring scientific, technical, and social science faculty/experts together and to look well into the future and help understand and anticipate WMD/WME capabilities.

For more information about PASCC, please see our brochure and our latest Annual Report

PASCC Research in Progress

PASCC Research in Progress (RIP) sheets provide concise summaries of PASCC-sponsored projects. These "RIP sheets" describe the strategic relevance and proposed approach to each project, and are published when a project receives funding; they do not include project findings or conclusions.

All current and previous RIP sheets are now stored in Calhoun, which provides a searchable and browsable database of all PASCC projects. We especially encourage you to take a look at the new and ongoing projects PASCC will be funding in FY2013!

Recently Released PASCC Reports and Papers

HSDL logoPASCC reports have a new home! The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) provides a searchable repository of PASCC reports. 

Campus users: Access PASCC reports on the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL).  

Off-campus users: Access PASCC reports on the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL).

Most PASCC reports are publicly available, with a small collection of For Official Use Only (FOUO) reports that require user authentication and log-on to access.

Political Influence on Japanese Nuclear and Security Policy: New Forces Face Large Obstacles

PASCC Report: 2014 004. Performers: Yuki Tatsumi (Stimson Center) and Robert Weiner (Naval Postgraduate School).

Abstract:Japan’s nuclear weapons policy has long enjoyed a stable, if somewhat internally inconsistent, equilibrium. Anti-proliferation efforts co-exist with reliance upon the United States’ nuclear deterrent, alongside dependence on a nuclear energy program robust enough to potentially support nuclear weapons capability. These policies have been promoted and maintained by Japan’s bureaucracy rather than by political bargains, with their bureaucratic proponents separately stovepiped rather than organized into a coherent whole. But new developments appear to leave Japan’s nuclear security policy – and its relations with the U.S. over this policy – in flux. This report first assesses the bureaucratically led status quo of Japanese nuclear policy and how its stakeholders have evolved. It then turns to an examination of newly emerging political influences on security policy, including nuclear policy – the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) governments of 2009-2012, the new Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) administration led by Prime Minister Abe, apparently rising tides of nationalism, and the anti-nuclear-power movement.

Perspectives on Security, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation: Views from the United States and South Africa

PASCC Report: 2014 001. Performer: Jessica Piombo (Naval Postgraduate School).

Abstract: This project convened a dialogue between civil societies in the United States and the Republic of South Africa (RSA) to deepen understanding of the ways in which each nation views its most critical strategic security concerns and the domestic debates that shape those views. Held in September 2013, this two-day workshop brought together sixteen participants to discuss nuclear disarmament, energy, and proliferation/nonproliferation issues. Despite perceptions that the United States and South Africa are far apart in terms of international engagement on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament issues, the workshop discussion illuminated that cooperation exists on multiple issues along several dimensions, and highlighted that the two countries tend to be in agreement on the same general goals. Areas of cooperation include mutual dedication to nonproliferation and bilateral support for the associated nonproliferation and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) security treaties and conventions. There are, nonetheless, significant areas in which there are differences in basic outlook and orientation, as well as ways of engaging in international fora that affect the extent of collaboration and the development of a closer relationship.

U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue 2014 Report

PASCC Report: 2014 002. Performers: S. Paul Kapur, Ryan Jacobs, and Ryan French (Naval Postgraduate School).

Abstract: The eighth session of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue was held in New Delhi, India, from December 12-13, 2013. This report reviews the proceedings of this year’s meeting by providing analysis on the panel presentations and ensuing discussions. U.S.-India relations appear to have reached a plateau, with no major joint projects, or other initiatives for advancing the relationship, currently in progress. That plateau, however, is at a much higher level of cooperation than the two countries enjoyed in the past. Also, important potential areas of collaboration lie on the horizon, particularly the need to manage rising Chinese power in the Indian/Pacific Ocean regions. Both countries agree on the importance of this challenge and seek similar outcomes. The major question moving forward is whether the U.S. and India can be confident in each other as partners in this and other issue areas. Culture is another area that deserves further attention and might be best viewed as a “spoiler” in the context of U.S.-India relations. On multiple occasions during the dialogue, participants argued that misunderstandings rooted in “culture” – the habits and norms that determine how Indians and Americans communicate, deliberate, and sometimes disagree with each other – often undermined the two-countries’ ability to achieve important, mutually beneficial goals.

Penaid Nonproliferation: Hindering the Spread of Countermeasures Against Ballistic Missile Defenses

Performers: Richard H. Speier, K. Scott McMahon, and George Nacouzi (RAND).

Abstract: This research describes an approach to hindering the spread of countermeasures against ballistic missile defenses. (Such countermeasures, when incorporated in an attacker’s missile, are also called penetration aids, or penaids.) The approach involved compiling an unclassified list of penaid-relevant items that might be subject to internationally agreed-upon export controls. This report recommends controls on 19 penaid-relevant items. More specifically, it recommends the tightest controls on three of those items: complete, integrated countermeasure subsystems; complete subsystems for missile defense test targets; and boost-glide vehicles. It offers as candidates for the tightest controls ten other items, such as re-entry vehicle replicas or decoys. But because these ten items are not complete subsystems, it identifies the possibility of treating them to a case-by-case review to improve the negotiability of the controls. Finally, the report identifies six classes of items, including test facilities and equipment, that could appropriately be subject to case-by-case review because of their utility for other applications, such as peaceful satellites.

Assessing the Potential of Societal Verification by Means of New Media

Performers: Bryan Lee, Jeffrey Lewis, Melissa Hanham (James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies).

Abstract: The explosive growth of online social networking sites has been one of the dominant stories of the Internet era. This technology has generated interest because of its ability to organize large groups of people to solve tasks or provide information, including otherwise-hard-to-find information. This has led to calls to apply this technology to the nonproliferation field, specifically to provide "societal verification" of arms control agreements. Following a review of the research literature, the authors present a comprehensive case study which demonstrates some of the potential of new media technologies to support nonproliferation and arms control goals. Examples are drawn from the fields of commercial satellite imagery analysis, text and data mining of public information, and the gaming and simulation community. The authors present a short list of general guidelines for the use of these technologies in a nonproliferation context, and conclude with some recommendations for policymakers to consider with respect to the use of new media tools.

In addition to this report, co-author Jeffrey Lewis has published the case study online at 38North. This research has also been picked up by Global Security Newswire.

CSIS European Trilateral Nuclear Dialogue: 2013 Consensus Statement

Performers: Clark Murdock and Franklin Miller (Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)).

Abstract:In an effort to increase trilateral nuclear dialogue among the United States, France, and Great Britain, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) established a group of highlevel nuclear experts to discuss nuclear issues and to identify areas of consensus among the three countries. From 2009-2013, the dialogue has hosted three meetings a year (one in each nation’s capital) and produced consensus policy statements signed by nongovernmental participants in order to promote trilateral understanding of the nuclear challenges facing the P-3. In 2013, the group’s discussion has focused on NATO and the elimination of nuclear weapons; the NPT regime; red lines, ultimatums, and other forms of coercive diplomacy; and multidimensional deterrence.

Building Toward Trilateral Cooperation on Extended Deterrence in Northeast Asia

Performers: David Santoro and Brad Glosserman (Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)).

Abstract: The Pacific Forum CSIS, with the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies, and with support from PASCC and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), held a US-ROK-Japan Extended Deterrence Trilateral Dialogue on Sept. 2-3, 2013. Thirty-five US, ROK, and Japanese experts, officials, military officers, and observers, along with 15 Pacific Forum Young Leaders attended, all in their private capacities. North Korea's rapid nuclear and missile developments and China's steady force modernization are creating new security challenges for Northeast Asian stability. These challenges have important implications for US extended deterrence, which Washington has long provided to the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan. While progress has been made to strengthen extended deterrence relationship with its allies, much remains to be done in both bilateral alliances. At the same time, at least from a US perspective, stronger cooperation on extended deterrence and assurance at the trilateral level would further strengthen regional stability. At this first annual trilateral extended deterrence dialogue, participants examined and compared perspectives on extended deterrence and assurance, China and the balance of power in Asia, North Korea, and changes in national defense postures in the United States, the ROK, and Japan. Participants also explored opportunities and challenges to strengthen trilateral cooperation on extended deterrence and assurance.

NATO Nuclear Reductions and the Assurance of Central and Eastern European Allies

Performer: Kurt Guthe (National Institute for Public Policy).

Abstract: Recent years have seen a debate within NATO over the issue of whether U.S. nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Europe should be retained in their current status, reduced in number, or withdrawn from the Continent. Member states in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), however, are wary of changes in the nuclear posture of the alliance. This report examines the question of how the pursuit of limits on U.S. nonstrategic nuclear weapons might be balanced with the concerns of CEE allies regarding dangers posed by Russia and the value of nonstrategic nuclear weapons in mitigating those dangers. More specifically, how might nonstrategic nuclear weapons be reduced while assuring these countries of the credibility of NATO and U.S. commitments to their security?

Future Opportunities for Bioengagement in the MENA Region

Performer: Kavita Berger (American Association for the Advancement of Science).

Abstract: Countering biological threats presents a complexity not seen with either nuclear or chemical weapons. The pathogens and toxins used to develop biological weapons in past offensive weapons programs could be found naturally. The scientific knowledge, skills, equipment, and facilities needed to develop biological weapons are the same as those needed for "peaceful, prophylactic" research and diagnostic uses. Being able to distinguish between malicious and peaceful uses is the most difficult challenge to identifying illicit activities and developing programs to counter possible illicit activities.

This report focuses on scientific engagement to counter biological threats. It recognizes the important role that scientists can play in preventing and responding to biological risks and threats. The report builds on years of cooperative threat reduction and cooperative engagement to identify new opportunities and approaches for future engagement in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy (CSTSP) received a PASCC grant to identify new opportunities and approaches for future bioengagement in the MENA region based on regional consultations with scientific and health experts. AAAS held regional consultations in Morocco and Jordan wherein regional and U.S. experts discussed gaps in bioengagement, suggested opportunities for future engagement, and explored metrics of effectiveness and long-term impact of bioengagement efforts.

** NEW ** The Roadmap for Implementation: This supplemental document describes how various organizations and sectors of the U.S. government and non-governmental community could effectively support and/or implement this project's recommendations  to enhance future bioengagement between U.S. and MENA countries.  

Rationality, Culture, and Deterrence

PASCC Report: 2013 009. Performers: Jeffrey W. Knopf (Monterey Institute of International Studies).

Abstract: Deterrence strategies involve trying to influence the decision-making of another actor. There are several models or frameworks available that could assist with efforts to anticipate how another actor will be influenced. Debates about deterrence in the United States have tended to reflect two main approaches: the rational actor model and the unique strategic culture approach. This research project reviews three other approaches that have been applied to studying deterrence: social constructivism, domestic politics, and psychology and neuroscience. None of these approaches, either alone or in combination, offers a perfect framework for predicting the outcomes of deterrence efforts, but each adds valuable insights that are relevant to developing deterrence strategies.

This study recommends that, in thinking about whether and how to deter other actors, analysts make use of all the different models available for anticipating how the other side will be influenced. This will not guarantee success in deterrence, but compared to relying on just a single framework for thinking about deterrence, use of multiple perspectives should reduce the chances of overlooking a critical flaw in deterrence planning.

South Asian Stability Workshop

PASCC Report: 2013 008. Performers: Feroz Khan and Ryan French (Naval Postgraduate School).

Abstract: The South Asian Stability Workshop was a crisis simulation exercise held 19-22 March in Colombo, Sri Lanka, organized by the Center on Contemporary Conflict at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. The simulation convened retired Indian and Pakistani senior military officers and civilian analysts into two teams based on country of origin (India and Pakistan). Participants were confronted with a simulated geopolitical scenario and crisis triggering event, set in the year 2018. The simulation lasted for three “moves” and was moderated by a Control Group consisting primarily of U.S. experts on south Asian security. Over three moves spanning nine “in-game” days, what began as a limited war escalated quickly to a full-scale war. Although the India team’s initial intent was to conduct limited, punitive strikes against Pakistan, military necessity on both sides led to extensive mobilizations and horizontal escalation. By the end of the third move, Pakistan was preparing to release warheads to its Strategic Forces Commands, readying nuclear missile launchers for possible battlefield deployment, and conducting nuclear signaling through missile tests and public statements. The exercise concluded at this point when neither side was able to terminate the war on its terms.

Our findings from the simulation exercise lead us to conclude that a limited war in South Asia will escalate rapidly into a full war with a high potential for nuclear exchange. Although war-games and crisis simulations are not necessarily predictive of real-world outcomes, the South Asian Stability Workshop provided significant insight into regional escalation dynamics during a period of crisis. This simulation highlights the need for confidence-building measures and a strategic restraint regime that nurtures détente. In the event of a crisis, international intervention and diplomacy must be swift in order to cool tensions and prevent full-scale conflict.

Anti-Satellite Weapons, Deterrence, and Sino-American Space Relations 

Performers: Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson, Editors (Stimson Center).

Abstract: This collection of essays, edited by Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson, captures important insights from Stimson Center workshops, roundtables and public events that have focused on deterring attacks on space assets, promoting greater cooperation between the United States and China, and avoiding military competition in space. Space’s importance is major, growing and underappreciated inside the Washington Beltway, and applying principles of deterrence to space is a relatively new field of inquiry. With PASCC's support, Stimson presents six essays that investigate the deterrence of destructive acts in space, drawing from lessons from the nuclear era. Unlike nuclear weapons, however, capabilities to harm space assets have been tested only occasionally in dramatic ways, and mostly have been pursued quietly or by indirect methods. Consequently, space warfare capabilities rarely make headlines, unlike actions signaling nuclear deterrence, which are the subject of intense public and media attention. While nuclear deterrence rests on deployed or readily deployed capabilities, the weaponization of space – defined here as the placement of dedicated war-fighting capabilities in this domain – has yet to occur. On what, then, does deterrence rest in space?

Future World of Illicit Nuclear Trade: Mitigating the Threat

Performers: David Albright, Andrea Stricker, and Houston Wood (Institute for Science and International Security).

Abstract: For countries in the developing world, the pathway to obtaining and improving nuclear weapons will remain illicit nuclear trade. This report first characterizes the future world of illicit nuclear trade in the next five to ten years. Despite many recent, particularly United States-led, successes, stopping this trade will remain difficult. Absent mitigating actions, several existing or expected trends are projected to make it easier for smugglers to succeed in acquiring nuclear and nuclear-related goods and technology.

But future illicit trade can be stopped through measures taken today as long as the political will is there to foresee and address future threats. This report sets forth over 100 specific recommendations in 15 broad policy areas that the United States should implement. These countermeasures aim at mitigating or eliminating future threats posed by illicit nuclear trade. Specific recommendations are aimed at thwarting or slowing the efforts of developing or emerging countries that will seek nuclear weapons or sensitive nuclear fuel cycle facilities. The report discusses methods to hinder developed or newly industrialized countries from acquiring the means to make nuclear weapons. Several other recommendations concern preventing emerging markets from becoming major hubs of illicit nuclear trade. Preventing the future world of illicit trade is imperative to U.S. and international security and to the creation of a world safer from the spread and use of nuclear weapons.

The Regional Implications of Low Nuclear Numbers on Strategic Stability

Performers: James Moltz, David Yost, James Russell, S. Paul Kapur, Christopher Twomey, Wade Huntley (Naval Postgraduate School).

Abstract: In a special issue of The Nonproliferation Review, several PASCC performers present the results of their recent projects on the strategic implications of moving to low nuclear numbers. Significant nuclear reductions by the United States can affect other states in one of five ways: by directly altering their strategic calculations and postures; by indirectly altering their strategic calculations and postures by affecting the behavior of third-party states; by undermining formal US deterrence commitments; by eroding the United States's perceived ability to provide "informal" deterrence through the maintenance of an active global presence; and by creating normative pressure for states to emulate US nuclear reductions. Implementing such reductions needs to be a carefully thought-out process, and each region presents unique challenges and opportunities for the United States, which has both the most to lose if this effort goes wrong and potentially the most to gain if it can be carried out in a manner that puts all states on a path toward cooperative security, nonproliferation, and reduced nuclear tensions.

Deterring Rogue Regimes: Rethinking Deterrence Theory and Practice

Performers: Scott D. Sagan (Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University).

Abstract: Iraq represents a significant historical case for assessing the effectiveness of deterrent threats on containing the ambitions of would-be nuclear states. The Conflict Records Research Center (CRRC) at the National Defense University houses a vast collection of records captured from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the 2003 Gulf War, including audio recordings and direct transcripts of high-level meetings between Saddam Hussein and his advisors and senior cabinet that shed light on Saddam's thinking throughout the life of the Iraqi nuclear program.

With funding from PASCC, Dr. Sagan facilitated the translation and analysis of sources from the CRRC archives to learn lessons about preventing proliferation and deterring WMD use. Overall, the captured Iraqi records provide new evidence on the WMD program and deterrence failures in 1991 and 2003. This new research illuminates the complex history of misperceptions and ineffective signaling, and raises important questions about the degree to which we can depend on deterrence to work with potential new nuclear states in the future.

Progress Continues, but Disagreements Remain: The Seventh U.S.-China Strategic Dialogue on Strategic Nuclear Dynamics & The Inaugural China-US Dialogue on Space Security

Performers: Ralph Cossa, Brad Glosserman, and David Santoro (Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)).

Abstract:The Pacific Forum CSIS, with the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, and with support from NPS PASCC and DTRA, held the 7th China-US Strategic Nuclear Dynamics Dialogue on Jan. 28-29, 2013. Some 80 Chinese and US experts, officials, military officers, and observers along with eight Pacific Forum Young Leaders attended, all in their private capacity. The level of the Chinese delegation was relatively senior, consistent with last year’s meeting, and included several active duty “two-star” officers, and significant participation from the Second Artillery. They joined two days of off-the-record discussions of nuclear policies, current proliferation challenges, cross-domain deterrence, crisis management, and prospects for bilateral cooperation. Additionally, there was a half-day of discussion about space policy.

Please click here to read "Progress Continues, but Disagreements Remain: The Seventh U.S.-China Strategic Dialogue on Strategic Nuclear Dynamics & The Inaugural China-US Dialogue on Space Security."

A Go-to-Market Strategy: Promoting Private Sector Solutions to the Threat of Proliferation

Performers: Brian Finlay, Esha Mufti, and Nate Olson (The Stimson Center).

Abstract: The interconnectivity, complexity, and fluidity of global commerce suggest that the ability of governments to control the proliferation of dangerous technologies is diminishing — at the very moment proliferation and other transnational criminal challenges are increasing. These realities are driven by three contending presumptions: First, proliferation threats are evolving because of the globalized diffusion of WMD capacities which are themselves rooted in, and facilitated by, a growing network of private sector actors. Second, this new reality necessitates renewed attention on building innovative new partnerships with industry if our efforts to prevent proliferation are to be successful. And finally, while the means of WMD production was once the exclusive purview of governments, the privatization of those capacities have led to a growing convergence between the threat of WMD proliferation and a broad array of transnational threats.

This report argues that while government regulation will remain the central element in preventing WMD proliferation and combatting other forms of transnational criminal activity, these trends also open up new opportunities to modernize our preventive toolkit to more sustainably, effectively, and efficiently address a broad array of international trafficking and proliferation threats. Developing government and private sector partnerships is widely recognized to be a critical component for successful nonproliferation and counter-trafficking efforts; however, neither the government nor the expert community has systematically developed practical collaborations that go beyond threats of additional regulation. While not a panacea, self-regulation incented by the market is an under-leveraged tool in current prevention efforts.

The Israeli “Nuclear Alert” of 1973: Deterrence and Signaling in Crisis

Performers: Elbridge Colby, Avner Cohen, William McCants, Bradley Morris, William Rosenau, (CNA).

Abstract:The Strategic Studies Division of CNA, with support from PASCC, conducted an in-depth study of the rumored Israeli "nuclear alert" during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Drawing on interviews with key participants and experts, both American and Israeli; open source documents; and U.S. Government documents pertaining to the Yom Kippur War, this study concludes that Israel likely did take some steps associated with the readying of its nuclear weapons in the very early stages of the Yom Kippur War, but that these steps were defensive or precautionary in nature and were not a signal. The authors also assess that it is likely that the United States observed this activity and that the report of the activity was disseminated to key decision-makers – but that the report did not have any significant impact on U.S. decision-making. Rather, U.S. (and likely all nations’) decision-makers were aware of the possibility of Israeli nuclear use as an implicit reality, but they judged that it was only plausible in extremis, and American leaders did not believe the situation, even in the dark hours of October 7, had reached those depths. This case illuminates several enduring aspects of the role of nuclear weapons in international politics and conflict, such as the perceptual significance of nuclear operations, bureaucratic and organizational factors in nuclear signaling, and the role of signaling during crises.

Please click here to read "The Israeli 'Nuclear Alert' of 1973: Deterrence and Signaling in Crisis."

Coercive Nuclear Campaigns in the 21st Century: Understanding Adversary Incentives and Options for Nuclear Escalation

PASCC Report: 2013 001. Performers: Kier A. Lieber (Georgetown University) and Daryl G. Press (Dartmouth College).

Abstract: This report examines why and how regional powers armed with nuclear weapons may employ these weapons coercively against the United States or U.S. allies during a conventional war. Lieber and Press argue that intra-war deterrence – preventing nuclear-armed adversaries from escalating during a conventional conflict – is the most important deterrence challenge facing the U.S. in the 21st century. Facing conventionally superior foes, regional nuclear-armed states will worry deeply about the consequences of defeat, which are extraordinarily costly for leaders, and will therefore have substantial incentives to employ nuclear force coercively to stalemate the conflict before they suffer a battlefield defeat. The authors argue the need to incorporate escalation prevention into the goal set for U.S. planners and to assess the impact of changes to the U.S. nuclear arsenal on the ability to deter intra-war escalation.

 

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