Heather Williams

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Dr. Heather Williams is the Director of the Project on Nuclear Issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Prior to joining PONI, she was a Visiting Fellow with the Project on Managing the Atom in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Defence Studies at King’s College London. From 2020-2021, Heather was a Stanton Nuclear Security fellow in the Security Studies Program at MIT. Her recent research includes the CSIS report, Integrated Arms Control in an Era of Strategic Competition (with Rebecca Hersman and Suzanne Claeys), “The Unavoidable Technology: How Artificial Intelligence Can Strengthen Nuclear Stability” in The Washington Quarterly (with Jessica Cox), and “Asymmetric arms control and strategic stability: Scenarios for limiting hypersonic glide vehicles” in the Journal of Strategic Studies.

From 2018 to 2019, Dr. Williams served as a Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords International Relations Committee inquiry into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Disarmament, and until 2015 she was a Research Fellow at Chatham House and led research on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons Initiative. She previously worked in the Strategy, Forces, and Resources Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses, where she remains an adjunct Research Staff Member. She is a Senior Associate (non-resident) with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a Senior Associate Fellow with the European Leadership Network, and a member of the Wilton Park Advisory Council. Dr. Williams has a PhD in War Studies from King’s College London, an MA in Security Policy Studies from The George Washington University, and a BA in International Relations and Russian Studies from Boston University.

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Authored by Heather Williams

CSIS European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues

The European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues, organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in partnership with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), have convened senior nuclear policy experts from the United Kingdom, France, and the United States (P3) since 2009 to discuss nuclear deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation policy issues.

How to Get Away with a Nuclear Test

If Russia does return to nuclear testing, Putin will have assumed that the international community will be silent or divided on the issue—essentially, he would be betting that Russia can get away with it. But a return to nuclear testing, a well-recognized taboo, could backfire for Moscow.

Reactions from the Next Generation: “The Fragile Balance of Terror: Deterrence in the New Nuclear Age”

As a follow-on to The Fragile Balance of Terror, the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies invited eight early- and mid-career experts to offer their reflections on the volume’s chapters and conclusions.

Alternative Nuclear Futures: Capability and Credibility Challenges for U.S. Extended Nuclear Deterrence

The U.S. extended deterrence could change drastically in the next decade due to increasing nuclear threats from countries such as Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. The credibility of U.S. security guarantees for its allies is at risk, and the CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues used an “alternative futures” approach to explore how this mission might be affected. In all scenarios explored, the United States faces a credibility problem that will require a new approach to consulting, planning, training, and operating with allies.