Rebecca Hersman is director of the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) and senior adviser with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). A leading expert on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons policy; global health security; and crisis management, Ms. Hersman leads the preeminent national program designed to develop next generation nuclear expertise. An author of numerous studies and reports on nuclear and chemical weapons policy, emerging technologies and strategic stability, and crisis management and decisionmaking, Ms. Hersman also co-chairs the CSIS U.S./UK/France Trilateral Dialogues on Nuclear Issues and has served as a commissioner on the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security.
Ms. Hersman joined CSIS in April 2015 from the Department of Defense (DOD), where she served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering weapons of mass destruction since 2009. In this capacity, she led DOD policy and strategy to prevent WMD proliferation and use, reduce and eliminate WMD risks, and respond to WMD dangers. She was a key leader on issues ranging from the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, nuclear response and mitigation during the Fukushima crisis, and WMD interdiction policy and response. Ms. Hersman led DOD engagements on WMD issues with NATO, South Korea, Japan, and others, and also served as DOD’s principal policy advocate on WMD arms control, nonproliferation, and threat reduction. Prior to joining DOD, Ms. Hersman was a senior research fellow with the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University from 1998 to 2009. Ms. Hersman previously held positions as an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a member of the House Armed Services Committee professional staff. She holds an M.A. in Arab studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Duke University.
In 2020, the European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues convened senior nuclear policy experts from the United Kingdom, France, and the United States to discuss nuclear deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation issues and identify areas of consensus among the P3.
The expansion of dual-capable delivery systems and the diversification of strategic forms of warfare to include cyber, space, and advanced high precision conventional strike capabilities have sharply eroded structural conventional-nuclear firebreaks firebreaks.
This brief reflects discussions and insights from a deep dive workshop convened by PONI at Kings Bay Submarine Base on strategic stability and great power competition in the Arctic. This brief focuses on how climate, economic, and political trends in the Arctic region impact U.S. strategic interests, and the implications of these trends for nuclear stability, policy, and posture.
View the PONI panel and poster presentation from the 2020 STRATCOM Deterrence Symposium.
The brief examines the debate surrounding the development of U.S. nuclear warheads and whether the United States is creating “new” nuclear weapons.
Understanding international security issues at the “nuclear nexus” is critical for managing a contemporary security environment characterized by rapid technological innovation, increased strategic competition, and a looming nuclear shadow.
Increasingly capable and intrusive digital information technologies, advanced dual-use military capabilities, and diffused global power structures will reshape future crises and conflicts between nuclear-armed adversaries and challenge traditional ways of thinking about escalation and stability. This emerging security environment will require new concepts and tools to manage the risk of unintended escalation and reduce nuclear dangers.
The current NC3 structure, last comprehensively updated in the 1980s, was designed for a vastly different security environment.
CSIS Experts Samuel Brannen, Kathleen Hicks, Seth G. Jones, Rebecca Hersman, and Todd Harrison predict how the COVID-19 pandemic could effect geopolitics in the long-term.
On April 15, 2020, the State Department released the executive summary for the 2020 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, more commonly known as the Compliance Report.
The papers included in this volume comprise research from participants in the 2019 Nuclear Scholars Initiative and the PONI Conference Series.
Informed by research and eight tabletop exercises conducted with nearly 150 participants overall, this two-year study examines implications of the emerging strategic situational awareness ecosystem and its impact on crisis decisionmaking. Read the full report on the On the Radar website.
The European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues have convened senior nuclear policy experts from the United Kingdom, France, and the United States (P3) for the past eleven years to discuss nuclear deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation policy issues and identify areas of consensus among the three countries.
Chemical weapons are back. Since 2012, the growing number and types of CW uses have increasingly challenged the anti-CW regime.
As increasingly capable and provocative situational awareness tools come into play, the very act of improving situational awareness may intensify escalation cycles in unanticipated ways, particularly among nuclear-armed states.
As we survey the world today, we find the nuclear landscape to be more uncertain and precarious than it has been at any time since the end of the Cold War.
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 pourla Recherche Stratégique (FRS), has convened senior nuclear policy experts from the United Kingdom, France, and the United States (P3) for the past ten years to discuss nuclear deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation policy issues and to identify areas of consensus among the three countries.
The papers included in this volume comprise research from participants in the 2018 Nuclear Scholars Initiative and the PONI Conference Series. These papers explore such topics as the impacts of emerging technologies and capabilities, deep-diving on nuclear strategy and national policies, proposing paths forward for addressing proliferation challenges, and enhancing arms control in contentious environments.
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, preceded by wide debate, is enjoying a honeymoon of sorts. Domestically, it received strong support and close to full funding while internationally, it has received strong support from allies. However, controversy over the NPR may be just around the corner. There needs to be strong bipartisan commitment to nuclear infrastructure and delivery system modernization as well as arms control.
In 2012, a 20-year moratorium on state employment of chemical weapons use was broken. Since then, there have been more than 200 uses, against civilians, military targets, and political enemies.
REBECCA HERSMAN, J. STEPHEN MORRISON, and VICTOR CHA
REBECCA HERSMAN and MELISSA DALTON
Last week, the Trump administration formally released its review of U.S. nuclear weapons policy—which is nearly identical to the version leaked to the Huffington Post in early January. Judging by reactions over what amounts to the longest rollout in Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) history, there is something in it for everyone.
For the benefit of allies, adversaries, and the American people, the time is now to rethink how U.S. leaders publicly justify the purpose, size, and character of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
REBECCA HERSMAN and CLARK A. MURDOCH
This study aims to create a dialogue with the nation’s nuclear personnel about the rationales for the U.S. nuclear arsenal that already exist—some of which have been stated at the highest levels of leadership—to ask what the nuclear forces actually hear, what works and what does not, and what motivates them on a daily basis.
REBECCA HERSMAN and J. STEPHEN MORRISON
A series of three chemical weapons attacks in Syria within a two-week span in August 2016 occurred amidst increased scrutiny and criticism from the international community, which has sought to identify and hold accountable those state and/or nonstate actors perpetrating, organizing, or sponsoring these chemical weapons attacks.
REBECCA HERSMAN, MELISSA DALTON and ALICE HUNT FRIEND
The United Kingdom has maintained a continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent since April 1969, with one ballistic missile submarine on patrol at all times.
Today North Korea claimed to have successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb. Though experts have not verified this claim, it corresponds to a 5.1 magnitude seismic event recorded on Tuesday. The purported test, which would signify a significant increase in North Korea’s nuclear capability, has been widely condemned by world leaders.
REBECCA HERSMAN and J. STEPHEN MORRISON
Whoever takes office in January 2017 is likely to inherit a nuclear landscape of greater risk, complexity, and challenge than any time since the collapse of the former Soviet Union.