News + Media

Military vehicles carrying the DF-17 hypersonic ballistic missile, capable of flying at five times the speed of sound, are seen during a parade in Beijing in October 2019. Photograph: Xinhua News Agency Handout/EPA

In the News

October 22, 2021

China’s hypersonic glider weapons test threatens to drive new arms race

Julian BorgerThe Guardian

Quoted: “In the last couple years China woke up and realized the risk of a conventional war with the US was higher than it’s probably been since the 1950s or 60s, and the US had a massive nuclear advantage it can use to prevent China from conventionally escalating a conflict,” said Vipin Narang, a professor of political science and expert on proliferation at MIT. “China realised it needed to compete with the US in order to stalemate us at the strategic nuclear level, to have a capability that could give the US pause before the US used nuclear weapons first in a conventional conflict.”...“It empowers those who are looking for continuity and/or expansion of missile defence or nuclear forces,” Narang said. “It’s hard to make the argument, when Russia and China are expanding, that the US should roll anything back.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping in Athens, Greece, November 2019

Analysis + Opinion

October 19, 2021

Is US foreign policy too hostile to China?

Eric Heginbotham and Shivshankar MenonForeign Affairs

Foreign Affairs asks the experts about US foreign policy toward China and whether it has become too hostile. Participants were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a proposition and to rate their confidence level in their opinion. Eric Heginbotham, a principal research scientist at the MIT Center for International Studies and Shivshankar Menon, a former CIS Robert E Wilhelm Fellow, were asked to weigh in.

The Chinese national flag is seen in Beijing on April 29, 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

In the News

October 19, 2021

China’s test of hypersonic vehicle is part of a program to rapidly expand strategic and nuclear systems

Ellen NakashimaThe Washington Post

Quoted: The big takeaway, said M Taylor Fravel, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is US-China dialogue about strategic stability “is incredibly urgent.” Developments are accelerating rapidly, he said, and “there just isn’t much communication about them between the US and China.”

DF-17 Dongfeng medium-range ballistic missiles equipped with a DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle participate in a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People's Republic in Beijing Oct. 1, 2019.

In the News

October 19, 2021

China's reported hypersonic weapon test raises security concerns

Luis MartinezABC News

Quoted: Taylor Fravel, the Director of the Security Studies Program at MIT, acknowledges that the new Chinese capability "does expose the limits of the US missile defense system" designed to counter ballistic missiles from North Korea and Iran," but he does not see a new Chinese glide vehicle as destabilizing. "Given the continued large gap in warhead stockpiles, whereby China possess only a fraction of those of the US this particular test should not upset the US-China nuclear balance or be destabilizing in that way," he told ABC News.  "However, it underscores China’s determination to strengthen its deterrent, especially as amid the steep decline in US-China relations and long-standing concerns about missile defense," he added.

US flag and China flag inside an ice cube

In the News

October 19, 2021

The new cold war panic

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Zachary BasuAxios

Quoted: "The most important element of [US-China] competition globally is economics and economic capabilities, and not military power and military capabilities, which makes it different from the Cold War," M Taylor Fravel, a professor of political science at MIT, told Axios.

The new hypersonic glide vehicle was launched with a ‘Long March’ rocket, seen here carrying China’s Chang’e-5 lunar probe for its space programme © AFP via Getty Images

In the News

October 16, 2021

China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile

Demetri Sevastopulo and Kathrin HilleFinancial Times

Quoted:  Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese nuclear weapons policy who was unaware of the test, said a hypersonic glide vehicle armed with a nuclear warhead could help China “negate” US missile defence systems which are designed to destroy incoming ballistic missiles. “Hypersonic glide vehicles . . . fly at lower trajectories and can manoeuvre in flight, which makes them hard to track and destroy,” said Fravel, a professor at MIT. Fravel added that it would be “destabilising” if China fully developed and deployed such a weapon, but he cautioned that a test did not necessarily mean that Beijing would deploy the capability.

AQ Khan headshot with him holding his arm up waving

In the News

October 10, 2021

Thief, traitor, smuggler, scammer: How the west remembers AQ Khan

Chidanand RajghattaThe Times of India

Quoted: "I would submit his greatest accomplishment was in fact convincing everyone that he was actually a nuclear scientist when in fact he was just the world's most dangerous and brazen smuggler," Vipin Narang, Professor of Nuclear Security at MIT observed...

US Navy Submarine partially submerged under water, people walking on top of it

In the News

October 8, 2021

Here's what we can gather about the US nuclear attack submarine collision in the South China Sea

Hannah JoseABC News

Quoted: Vipin Narang, a professor of nuclear security and political science at MIT, says we shouldn't hold our breath when it comes to the USS Connecticut.  "It's totally unclear what hit it," he said.  When asked about the possibility of it hitting an enemy submarine, he said he doubts we will ever know. "We likely won't know for sure for a while, if ever, on this one," Dr Narang said.  "Not sure why we heard about this one — sometimes the damage is extensive enough that it's hard to hide," Dr Narang said.

Ada Petriczko

Analysis + Opinion

October 7, 2021

In Europe's new humanitarian crisis, border security is prioritized over human rights

Ada PetriczkoBoston Globe
Military helicopters carrying a Taiwan flag fly near the Taipei 101 building as part of a rehearsal ahead of a Double Tenth Day celebration in New Taipei City, Taiwan, on Tuesday. Photo by Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Reuters Connect

In the News

October 6, 2021

How close did Chinese warplanes really get to Taiwan?

Fred KaplanSlate

Quoted:  M Taylor Fravel, an expert on China’s military and the director of MIT’s Security Studies Program, said in a phone conversation Tuesday, “These planes are never on a vector to intrude into Taiwan’s airspace.” MIT’s Fravel estimates that, since that trip, Chinese planes have flown over Taiwan’s zone around 20 days each month. They have also flown over Japan’s ADIZ with some regularity. In this sense, as in many others, Beijing is an equal-opportunity exploiter of rivals’ openings. However, Fravel emphasizes, these planes have never flown over Taiwan’s actual airspace. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his generals may be haughty, but they don’t appear to be reckless.

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