James M. Acton

Nuclear Policy Program
Acton is co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment. A physicist by training, Acton specializes in nonproliferation, deterrence, and disarmament.


PhD, Theoretical Physics, Cambridge University




James M. Acton is co-director of  the Nuclear Policy Program and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment. A physicist by training, Acton specializes in deterrence, disarmament, nonproliferation, and nuclear energy. His current research focuses on the nuclear fuel cycle in Japan and hypersonic conventional weapons.

Acton’s publications span the field of nuclear policy. He is the author of 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 accident’s root causes. His analysis on proliferation threats, including Iran and North Korea, has been widely disseminated by major journals, newspapers, and websites.

Acton is a member of the Commission on Challenges to Deep Cuts and of the Nuclear Security Working Group. He is a former member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials and was co-chair of the Next Generation Working Group on U.S.-Russian arms control. He has provided evidence to the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

Acton has published in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Survival, and the Washington Quarterly. He has appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and PBS NewsHour.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Policy July 16, 2015
    Iran Ain’t Gonna Sneak Out Under This Deal

    Under the terms agreed to in Vienna, the country is going to be crawling with inspectors. No one is covertly building a nuclear weapon under this regime.

  • Op-Ed Hill June 25, 2015
    Iran Needs to Come Clean With What, Not Why

    After 18 months of negotiations, one of the remaining challenges to reaching a nuclear deal with Iran is the extent to which Tehran must “come clean” about the history of its nuclear program and, in particular, about apparent efforts to design a nuclear weapon.

  • Testimony U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission April 1, 2015
    China’s Offensive Missile Forces

    The military threat posed by Chinese gliders, should they be deployed, will depend on their range and payload. While regional gliders and nuclear-armed gliders would reinforce the status quo, conventionally armed intercontinental gliders would create a qualitatively new threat.

  • Podcast January 6, 2015
    Conventional Prompt Global Strike

    China has concerns about how the U.S. conventional prompt global strike program might affect East Asian stability.

  • Year in Crisis December 10, 2014 Русский 中文
    The World in 2015

    Our take on the year ahead.

  • Op-Ed Independent Military Review November 21, 2014
    A New High-Speed Arms Race

    Clear evidence has recently emerged that a new arms race in ultra-fast, long-range weapons may be brewing between the United States, China, and Russia.

  • Op-Ed National Interest November 4, 2014 中文
    Who Cares about an Iranian Nuclear Breakout? Beware of an Atomic “Sneak-out”

    Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are foundering on the question of how much enrichment capacity it can be permitted. It’s time for America to rethink its strategy for preventing Tehran from getting the Bomb.

  • Op-Ed Defense One September 17, 2014
    Why Do We Need 'Hypersonic' Strike Weapons, Exactly?

    It’s hard to dispute the notion that before spending billions of dollars on a new weapon, the Pentagon ought to be able to explain what it’s for. So it’s surprising how often this rule isn’t followed. Take the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon.

  • Op-Ed Arms Control Wonk September 4, 2014 Русский
    Crashing Glider, Hidden Hotspring

    On August 7, China conducted a test of a hypersonic weapon. Open-source information about what happened that day in a remote part of Inner Mongolia allows for a few observations.

  • Op-Ed National Interest August 6, 2014 Русский
    How to Respond to Russia’s INF Treaty Violation

    Some are calling for the Obama administration to retaliate by backing out of this or other arms-control treaties. There are better options.

  • International Institute for Strategic Studies March 14, 2011
    Deterrence During Disarmament: Deep Nuclear Reductions and International Security

    Although Russia, the United States, and American allies have been loath to downsize their nuclear arsenals, deep reductions would not undermine a nation’s security since arsenal size has little bearing on effectiveness of deterrence.

  • Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: A Debate
    Carnegie Endowment for International Peace February 13, 2009
    Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: A Debate

    A distinguished group of experts from thirteen countries explore how to overcome obstacles to nuclear disarmament and pose questions that require further official and nongovernmental deliberation.

  • Adelphi Paper September 16, 2008
    Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

    In this new Adelphi Paper published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), George Perkovich and James M. Acton examine the challenges that exist to abolishing nuclear weapons completely, and suggest what can be done now to start overcoming them.

  • CNBC July 14, 2015
    Iran Deal: Not Perfect, But Better Than Nothing

    The recent nuclear deal between Iran, the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom is better than existing alternatives.

  • Bloomberg News March 2, 2015
    Can Iran Sell a Nuclear Deal Domestically?

    The big unknown at this point in the negotiations is how much Iran is willing to concede in its enrichment program in order to get sanctions relief. While Iran wishes to remove all sanctions immediately, the United States and its allies would like to see the sanctions removed gradually.

  • Arms Control Wonk September 1, 2014 中文
    A Hypersonic Arms Race

    There is renewed interested in conventionally armed hypersonic weapons in both the United States and in China.

  • Bloomberg TV July 30, 2014
    Is There a New Cold War on the Horizon?

    The United States has accused Russia of violating a 1987 missile treaty.

  • NPR May 31, 2014
    A Weapon Without A Mission: U.S. Developing Boost-Glide Missile

    The U.S. military has been working on a weapon that could strike remote targets quickly, a development that risks triggering a new arms race with foreign adversaries.

  • Bloomberg TV February 18, 2014
    Negotiating With Iran: A Matter of Trust

    Reaching a final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program is going to require some very hard compromises from hardliners both in Tehran and in Washington.

  • Al Jazeera September 12, 2013
    U.S. Special Envoy Says Restarting Reactor Could Be Serious Move

    Satellite images show activity at Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea.

  • August 1, 2013
    Nuclear Enrichment Revolution Meets Weapon Fears

    An Australian nuclear physicist has developed a new enrichment process and been granted approval by U.S. regulators to develop it commercially, despite fears it could promote the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

  • CTV News April 16, 2013
    Will North Korea Strike?

    North Korea has issued new threats against South Korea and has demanded an apology for protests in the South.

  • Platts Energy Week April 12, 2013
    Ex-NRC Chief’s Remarks Over Nuclear Power Reactors

    The former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, is back in the news with a story that’s causing a stir in the nuclear industry.

Source: http://carnegieendowment.org/experts/index.cfm?fa=expert_view&expert_id=434

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