Project on Nuclear Dynamics in a Multipolar Strategic BMD World

Project Mission

For decades, FAS experts have analyzed the technical and policy aspects of ballistic missile defenses. For example, during the Cold War, FAS scientists such as Richard Garwin and Hans Bethe had significant influence in educating the public and policymakers through technical reports, semi-popular and popular scientific articles, government testimonies, and news media interviews. Here, we present some recent analytic work since 2015 by Charles D. Ferguson and Bruce W. MacDonald. The September 2015 report focuses on understanding the implications of China’s potential deployment of a limited ballistic missile defense system, which could also provide political cover for continued development of anti-satellite weapons. Their July 2017 report and the working papers and presentations by contributing experts examine a broader set of issues dynamics in a world with several nuclear-armed states and four of them presently developing strategic ballistic missile defense systems. Dr. Ferguson and Prof. MacDonald thank the Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) for its financial support of the 2015 and 2017 projects.

Special Reports

Nuclear Dynamics In a Multipolar Strategic Ballistic Missile Defense World (July 2017)

This report examines the nuclear dynamics and implications for strategic relations in a world where four nuclear-armed states are developing strategic ballistic missile defenses (BMD). These states are the United States, Russia, China, and India. Each state appears to have the common rationale of wanting at least limited protection against ballistic missile attacks, and all will respond with various countermeasures to ensure that their nuclear deterrents are viable as they react to missile defense developments in other countries. In addition, we have found that each state has differing motivations for strategic BMD. Read or Download


Understanding the Dragon Shield: Likelihood and Implications of Chinese Strategic Ballistic Missile Defense (September 2015)

While China has received growing attention for modernizing and expanding its strategic offensive nuclear forces over the last ten years, little attention has been paid to Chinese activities in testing and developing ballistic missile defenses (BMD). Motivated to understand the strategic implications of this testing and to learn Chinese views, Adjunct Senior Fellow and Professor, Bruce MacDonald and FAS President, Dr. Charles Ferguson, over the past twelve months, have studied these issues and have had extensive discussions with more than 50 security experts in China and the United States. Ever since the end of the Cold War, U.S. security policy has largely assumed that only the United States would possess credible strategic ballistic missile defense capabilities with non-nuclear interceptors. This tacit assumption has been valid for the last quarter century but may not remain valid for long. Since 2010, China has been openly testing missile interceptors purportedly for BMD purposes, but also useful for anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. Read or Download

Working Papers

The following working papers are free and publicly available for education and information purposes. Please note that these are unedited working papers for theFAS Project on Nuclear Dynamics in a Multipolar Strategic BMD World.

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

“Strategic Implications of India’s Ballistic Missile Defense”

Pavel Podvig

“Missile Defense in Russia”

Shen Dingli

“China, Missile Defense and Implication”


Tytti Erasto and Roger R. Hale

U.S./NATO-Russian Strategic Relationship and Missile Defense

Frank A. Rose

“The P-5, Ballistic Missile Defense, and the Future of Global Strategic Stability”