In today’s competitive security landscape, nuclear weapons cannot be examined in isolation from other strategic security challenges. Current and emerging challenges related to nuclear weapons increasingly cross-cut other domains, including cyber, space, and conventional war. The International Security at the Nuclear Nexus virtual conference will include panel discussions spread out over two days and draw upon the analysis produced by the PONI International Security at the Nuclear Nexus article series, which will feature medium-length analysis pieces and related media examining issues that intersect nuclear weapons and other international security issue areas.

Nuclear weapons issues lie at the heart of a wide range of national and international security subject areas, such as conventional-nuclear integration as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence, cyber and space. The conference panels will go beyond the immediate nuclear community, bringing diverse subject matter expertise into the nuclear world.

Register for Day 1 here.

Register for Day 2 here.

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October 21, 2020 (Day 1)

Register for Day 1

12:00 – 12:30 PM    –    Opening Remarks and Prerecorded Keynote

Admiral Charles Richard, Commander, USSTRATCOM

12:45 – 2:00 PM    –    PANEL 1: Conventional-Nuclear Integration: Understanding Operations along the Conventional-Nuclear Seam – Plans, Exercises and Budget

This panel will assess budgetary, organizational, and warplanning components of conventional-nuclear integration. What tradeoffs exist between current modernization plans of conventional and nuclear forces? Which acquisitions advance further integration? How does the lack of clear firebreaks between conventional and nuclear command and control impact planning? What steps can be taken by regional combatant commands to enhance coordination with STRATCOM, and vice versa (exercises, organizationally)?

Moderator: Rebecca Hersman, Director, Project on Nuclear Issues; and Senior Adviser, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Panelists:

  • Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Senior Vice President; Henry A. Kissinger Chair; and Director, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Mackenzie Eaglen, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
  • Dr. Adam Mount, Senior Fellow and the Director, Defense Posture Project, Federation of American Scientists

2:15 – 3:30 PM    –    PANEL 2: Weaponization of Space and Nuclear Risks

This panel will assess the impact of increasing congestion and militarization of space on strategic stability and U.S. NC3. How vulnerable are U.S. nuclear-critical space assets, and how significantly might U.S. warfighting capabilities be degraded in the event its space-based NC3 is targeted in a crisis or conflict? Given that Russia, China, and the United States are testing new counter-space capabilities and space is simultaneously much more crowded, what approaches—between arms control, and offensive and defensive capabilities—can the United States take to protect its nuclear-critical space assets in the event that a conflict begins or spills over into space?

Moderator: Todd Harrison, Director, Aerospace Security Project; Director, Defense Budget Analysis; and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Panelists:

  • Kaitlyn Johnson, Associate Fellow and Associate Director, Aerospace Security Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Dr. Morgan Dwyer, Deputy Director for Policy Analysis, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group; and Fellow, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • David Zikusoka, Research Fellow in Aerospace Studies, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

3:45 – 5:00 PM    –    PANEL 3: Surveillance and Situational Awareness

This panel will assess the potential impact of advances in remote sensing, adoption of unmanned automated systems, and increasing intrusiveness of situational awareness technologies on stability and deterrence. How has the situational awareness ecosystem evolved? What are the potential benefits and risks of new capabilities to effective escalation management? How might real-time situational awareness capabilities counter both sub-conventional gray zone aggression and conventional preemptive attack?

Moderator: Eric Brewer, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Project on Nuclear Issues, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Panelists:

  • Rebecca Hersman, Director, Project on Nuclear Issues; and Senior Adviser, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Dr. Daryl Press, Associate Professor of Government, Dartmouth College
  • Dr. Thomas Mahnken, President and CEO, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

5:00 PM    –    Concluding Remarks 

5:15 PM    –    End of Day 1

 

October 22, 2020 (Day 2)

Register for Day 2

12:30 – 12:45 PM    –    Opening Remarks

12:45 – 2:10 PM    –     PANEL 4: Offense and Defense at the Nuclear Nexus – Missile Defense, Hypersonic Missiles and Intermediate Range Systems 

This panel will assess the impact of advancing missile defense and hypersonic weapons on stability between nuclear-armed adversaries. How will increasing vulnerability of strategic forces and forward deployed systems, compressed decisionmaking timelines, and further blurring of strategic and conventional forces impact traditional thinking on deterrence and stability? What similarities can be drawn between hypersonic systems and past examples of disruptive strategic technologies—such as the ICBM and nuclear bomber? What role does missile defense play in mitigating the effects of these systems, either by reducing pressure to take preemptive action and limiting damage of a first strike, or perceptively sowing doubt in adversary minds? How might hypersonic weapons and prompt global strike impact the importance of intercontinental nuclear ballistic missiles to U.S. strategic deterrence?

Moderator: Dr. Thomas Karako, Director, Missile Defense Project; and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International studies

Panelists:

  • Ankit Panda, Stanton Senior Fellow, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Ian Williams, Deputy Director, Missile Defense Project; and Fellow, International Security Program, and Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Robert Samuel Wilson, Policy Analyst, Center for Space Policy and Strategy, Aerospace Corporation
  • Rebeccah Heinrichs, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

2:20 – 3:50 PM    –    PANEL 5: AI, Automation, and Managing Nuclear Crises

This panel will explore the potential benefits, challenges, and risks of integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning into nuclear command, control and communications. How might automation-driven decisionmaking impact strategic stability? How can policymakers mitigate unfamiliarity with decisionmaking processes and risks of unintended escalation? How will more widespread adoption of autonomous weapon systems impact crisis stability and escalation control?

Moderator: Rebecca Hersman, Director, Project on Nuclear Issues; and Senior Adviser, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Panelists:

  • Lindsey Sheppard, Fellow, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Elsa Kania, Senior Fellow, Technology and National Security Program, Center for New American Security
  • Dr. Paul Scharre, Senior Fellow and Director, Technology and National Security Program, Center for New American Security

4:00 – 5:00 PM    –    Concluding Keynote, Audience Q&A

Dr. Heather Wilson, President, University of Texas at El Paso and Former Secretary, U.S. Air Force

5:00 PM    –    Concluding Remarks

5:15 PM    –    End of Conference

 

This event is made possible by support from the Northrop Grumman Corporation