James M. Acton

Jessica T. Mathews Chair
Co-director
Nuclear Policy Program
Acton holds the Jessica T. Mathews Chair and is co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Education

PhD, Theoretical Physics, Cambridge University

Languages
  • English

James Acton holds the Jessica T. Mathews Chair and is co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A physicist by training, Acton’s current research focuses on the escalation risks of advanced conventional weapons. His work on this subject includes the Carnegie edited volume, Entanglement: Chinese and Russian Perspectives on Non-nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Risks, and a forthcoming article in the journal International Security.

Acton’s publications span the field of nuclear policy. They include the Carnegie report, Wagging the Plutonium Dog: Japanese Domestic Politics and its International Security Implications, and two Adelphi books, Deterrence During Disarmament: Deep Nuclear Reductions and International Security and Abolishing Nuclear Weapons (with George Perkovich). He wrote, with Mark Hibbs, Why Fukushima Was Preventable, a groundbreaking study into the root causes of the accident. His analysis on proliferation risks, including from Iran and North Korea, has been widely disseminated by major journals, newspapers, and websites.

An expert on hypersonic conventional weapons and the author of the Carnegie report, Silver Bullet? Asking the Right Questions About Conventional Prompt Global Strike, Acton has testified on this subject to the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and the congressionally chartered U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Acton is a member of the Nuclear Security Working Group and of the International Advisory Council for the Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe. He has published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Science & Global Security, Survival, and the Washington Quarterly. He has appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and PBS NewsHour.

The Carnegie
Podcast

The global nuclear order is facing unprecedented challenges with Russia, North Korea and Iran all testing the limits of nuclear non-proliferation. The landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty marks its 50th anniversary next year. Will it be able to survive in its present form? This month, as Carnegie brings together 800 experts for its nuclear policy conference in Washington, Tom Carver spoke with Carnegie’s James Acton and Toby Dalton about the nuclear nonproliferation agenda.

The Carnegie Podcast is a regular series hosted by Tom Carver featuring commentary and analysis from Carnegie experts on critical global issues.

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