Adam Mount

Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow


Adam Mount is a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations where he is writing a profile of nuclear disarmament in the United States. The book compares past disarmament debates with today's movement and shows how each have significantly impacted U.S. nuclear force structure. He has spoken widely on the subject, including at the United Nations, Lawrence Livermore, Chatham House, CSIS, and at academic meetings. Previously, he worked on nuclear elimination contingencies at the RAND Corporation. Dr. Mount’s writing has been published by Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, The Diplomat, Democracy, and other outlets, and is forthcoming at The Nonproliferation Review. Additionally, he writes a column on nuclear strategy and force structure at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University.

Nuclear Disarmament in the United States

With President Obama's Prague speech of 2009, the ambition of eliminating nuclear weapons returned to the highest levels of government. The commitment at Prague was credited with heralding the return of American moral authority. Much discussed in Washington, the disarmament commitment is sometimes treated as a dangerous new proposition. This reaction overlooks the United States' consistent history of issuing rhetorical commitments to disarm as well as five occasions at which the commitment was issued as part of a formal negotiating process. Disarmament continues to occupy an unusual place in American politics: while many see the commitment as incredible, the antinuclear movement's moral arguments have resonated with presidents and policymakers and have kept the prospect perennially on the agenda. In a forthcoming book, I explore the continued effects that nuclear disarmament has had on U.S. nuclear force structure and in diplomatic efforts abroad. Though the debate has evolved considerably, the issue will continue to complicate U.S. policy in the years to come.

The Next U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

In an unfortunate coincidence, the primary weapon systems that brace each leg of the U.S. nuclear triad are coming to the ends of their service lives. The current plans will see the country upgrade nearly every bomber, missile, submarine, and warhead in the arsenal in the space of three decades. As a result, the cost of the arsenal is set to expand by about 75 percent in the next ten years and even more beyond. At a time of fiscal austerity, the triad threatens to crowd out other priorities in national defense. Though the situation is an acute financial crisis and must be resolved, it is also a unique opportunity to reshape the arsenal to ensure that it efficiently meets the nation's strategic requirements. In a series of articles, I will explore the spending plans for triad recapitalization and make recommendations for the shape of the next nuclear arsenal.

Latent Deterrence: Sustainably Deterring Crises After the Cold War

The end of the Cold War meant the end of a world in which two superpowers navigated a series of acute crises. The world today is dominated by a single military power whose primary interest is to deter rather than win destabilizing militarized crises. Though the requirements of deterrence have changed, policy and academic thinking on deterrence have remained largely constant. Existing models do not recognize that aggressors consider not only the extant military balance, but also estimate the balance that could obtain in time to affect the contemplated conflict. As a result, the latent military potential of states can be used to deter crises: defenders can manipulate an aggressor's assessment of latent capabilities by carefully structuring procurement contracts. Recent troubled acquisition programs suggest that the United States already relies on latent deterrence but that the practice is inefficient and costly. My research seeks to explain how the United States can safely rely on its industrial base and technological advantage in an austere fiscal environment to better deter crises.

Featured Publications

All Publications


A Constructive Ban-the-Bomb Movement

Authors: Adam Mount and Naomi Egel
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

On Monday, diplomats will gather in New York for a conference to review the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Held once every five years, the Review Conference is an opportunity to assess progress on the treaty’s basic bargain: States without nuclear weapons promise not to build them if the five nuclear states promise to get rid of theirs. This conference comes at a critical time. For 70 years, the nonproliferation regime has limited the spread of nuclear weapons. Today, it is marked by deep discord.

See more in Global; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament


P5+1 Talks Are Not (Just) about Iran

Author: Adam Mount
National Interest

Following Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement that the deadline for negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program would once again be pushed back, Adam Mount argues in the National Interest that applying more sanctions would eliminate any hope for a deal to end the Iranian nuclear program.

See more in Global; Weapons of Mass Destruction


Why NATO Should Eliminate its Tactical Nukes, Despite Russian Belligerence

Authors: Hans M. Kristensen and Adam Mount
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Adam Mount and Hans Kristensen argue that tactical nuclear bombs in Europe are no longer useful for defense, deterrance, or assurance. They have had little effect on Russian President Vladimir Putin's transgressions in Eastern Europe and instead detract from more useful defense initiatives.

See more in Europe; NATO; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament


Video Interview

Pentagon Announces Nuclear Weapons Overhaul

Adam Mount participates in a panel discussion on Huffington Post Live to discuss Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's announcement last week of its nuclear enterprise review and the future the U.S. nuclear arsenal.