It is published simultaneously by RECNA-Nagasaki University, Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (APLN), and Nautilus Institute.


Nuclear-Use Cases for Contemplating Crisis and Conflict on the Korean Peninsula
A Special Report prepared for the Project
“Reducing the risk of Nuclear Weapon Use in Northeast Asia”
Co-sponsored by Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA)
Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN)
Nautilus Institute
with collaboration of Panel on Peace and Security of Northeast Asia (PSNA)
December 9, 2021
Paul K. Davis and Bruce W. Bennett


This paper motivates and sketches a set of nuclear-use cases involving conflict on the Korean peninsula. The cases reflect a wide range of ways that nuclear weapons might be brandished or used in a Korean crisis. We identify possible cases by using two different lenses: a “logical” or taxonomic lens and a decisionmaking lens that asks how an actual national leader might decide to use nuclear weapons first. We then
select cases from the space of possibilities to reflect that range usefully. The use cases consider mistakes, unintended escalation, coercive threats, limited nuclear use to
reinforce threats, defensive operations, and offensive operations. They also consider the potential role of fear, desperation, responsibility, grandiosity, indomitability, and other human emotions. Some use cases are far more plausible than others at present, but estimating likelihoods is a dubious activity. The real challenge is to avoid
circumstances where the use cases would become more likely.

Nuclear-use Cases, Korean Peninsula, Nuclear War, Scenarios, DPRK, U.S.

Authors’ Profile:

Paul Davis
Paul Davis is a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and a retired adjunct Senior Principal Researcher at RAND. He holds a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He worked in strategic warning technology and systems analysis before joining the U.S. government to work on strategic force planning and arms control. He then joined the RAND Corporation, where his research has dealt with strategic planning under deep uncertainty. His most recent work (co-edited) is Social Behavioral Modeling for Complex Systems (2019), Wiley & Sons.

Bruce W. Bennett
Bruce W. Bennett is a professor in the Pardee RAND Graduate School and a retired adjunct International/Defense Researcher at the RAND Corporation. He is an expert in Northeast Asian security issues, having visited the region about 120 times and written much about Korean Security. His research addresses issues such as DPRK military force requirements, Korean unification, the Korean military balance, and potential Chinese military intervention in North Korea. He received a Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

Full text (PDF) is here.
The page for this project is here.

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RECNA Newsletter Vol.10 No.1 (September 30, 2021)

Newsletter Vol.10 No.1 _ Returning to my Starting Point – a greeting upon taking office
— Michiru Nishida

Passing down the Reality of Atomic Bombing: Digital educational materials “Meet the Hibakusha”
— Mitsuhiro Hayashida

Between legacy and policy: Nuclear Legacy and Nuclear Policy Research Society
— Hibiki Yamaguchi

Project on Reducing the Risks of Nuclear Weapons Use in Northeast Asia (NU-NEA) – So that nuclear weapons are never used again –
— Tatsujiro Suzuki

A Determined Step Toward a New Era: the 2021 Nagasaki Peace Declaration
— Satoshi Hirose

Youth Delegates Meet with Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu and Ms. Natsuki Yasuda
— Fumihiko Yoshida

Activity Report: Ninth Nagasaki Youth Delegation
— The Ninth Nagasaki Youth Delegation

>>for details


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“A Guide to the World’s Fissile Material Inventory June 2021” was released. Please click on the thumbnail images below and download the pdf guide and poster.

Guides to World’s Fissile Material

Guide 2021

Guide to the World’s
Fissile Material Inventory
June 2021

[for browsing on the Web]
[for making leaflets]

Poster 2021

How to make leaflets:
Print the English Guide (PDF) for making leaflets on both sides of A3 paper,
and fold it in two then in three.

How to make brochure

>> Previous versions can be downloaded from here.

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Since 2015, RECNA has been compiling data on Fissile Material around the world and updating it on an annual basis. Now you can see the latest versions of “Global Inventory of Highly Enriched Uranium” and “Global Inventory of Separated Plutonium.”

See also: World’s Fissile Material Data

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Since 2013, RECNA has been compiling data on nuclear warheads around the world and updating it on an annual basis. Now you can see the “Global List of Nuclear Warheads” and detailed data on “Each Country’s Nuclear Weapons Capability” updated on June 1, 2021 from here. (Past version: 2013-2017 in Japanese only; 2018-2020)

See also: World’s Nuclear Warhead Data

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