Rebecca Hersman is director of the Project on Nuclear Issues and senior adviser for the International Security Program. 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 (WMD) 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. Ms. Hersman was a key leader on issues ranging from the nuclear security summit to the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons to the global health security agenda. She served as DOD’s principal policy advocate on issues pertaining to the Biological Weapons Convention, Chemical Weapons Convention, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
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. Her primary projects focused on the role of DOD in mitigating the effects of chemical and biological weapons attack, concepts and strategies for eliminating an adversary’s WMD programs, as well as proliferation issues facing the United States. Ms. Hersman also founded and directed the WMD Center’s Program for Emerging Leaders, an initiative designed to shape and support the next generation of leaders from across the U.S. government with interest in countering weapons of mass destruction. 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.
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.