In the News | 2020

Fotini Christia headshot next to a map of Afghanistan

In the News

April 2, 2020

3 Questions: Fotini Christia on new deal-making in Afghanistan

Michelle EnglishMIT News

It is unclear what a negotiated settlement could look like between the Afghan government and the Taliban given the latter’s clear desire to head the state. Whether the Taliban can commit to power sharing is a highly doubtful proposition as many expect it to get militarily emboldened as soon as the US withdraws and to become the de facto ruling power.

Imagery shows new roads appearing at a key rocket and missile test site in North Korea. The roads (light brown) appear to have been built around mid-March.

In the News

March 27, 2020

North Korea seen expanding rocket launch facility it once promised to dismantle

Geoff BrumfielNPR

Vipin Narang quoted: "It's hard to know what it is, but they're clearly reactivating it and preparing for personnel to be there, which suggests that they may want to start using it again," Narang says. "Maybe they want to test a satellite launch vehicle; maybe they want to test an ICBM; maybe they want to test an engine."

1954's Castle Bravo test

In the News

March 25, 2020

America’s allies are becoming a nuclear-proliferation threat

Pete McKenzieDefense One

Vipin Narang quoted: “The concern is that it’s not a genuine negotiating position, that it’s demanded as an excuse to eventually pull out of South Korea,” Narang said. “There’s a deep enough thread in Trump’s thinking and rhetoric to suggest that he genuinely believes that American [nuclear] assurance and conventional deployments to these allies are a waste of money.”

Special Duty book on display

In the News

March 15, 2020

The Japanese intelligence community & espionage

Tony VegaJapan Station: A Podcast by

On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, Richard Samuels digs into the world of Japanese spycraft and the history of Japan's intelligence community.


In the News

March 13, 2020

MIT’s response to Covid-19


MIT is tracking the Covid-19 (coronavirus) situation daily, offering ongoing updates and guidance. This website offers the latest updates and information on what the Institute is doing.

In the News

March 10, 2020

Why do banking crises occur?

Peter DizikesMIT News

In a new book, political scientist David Singer finds two key factors connected to financial-sector collapses around the globe.

North Korea carried out another launch of projectiles on Monday, a week after a similar exercise [Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo] Koreans watching news coverage of the launch on tv.

In the News

March 8, 2020

N Korea fires projectiles, after 'momentous' retaliation threat


Vipin Narang quoted: Vipin Narang of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology added: "Kim continues to test, improve and operationalise his force." 

In the News

February 26, 2020

It all adds up: MIT-Africa

Laura Carter, School of ScienceMIT News

Hazel Sive, faculty director for MISTI-Africa and director of the MIT-Africa Initiative, visited the Uganda program. “This is a fantastic contribution by the MIT Mathematics Department. Our students ran an outstanding program for the best high school math talent in Uganda. The Ugandan students were exceptional, and we hope some will be attracted to apply to MIT. ”  

#NaMosteTrump | What Trump's visit means for India?

In the News

February 24, 2020

What Trump's visit means for India?

India Today

Vipin Narang and other local experts were interviewed and commented on President's Trump trip to India and what it means for India and for Modi.

Donald Trump thanked India for the contributions its culture and traditions have made to the United States and said Americans are eager to strengthen ties between their people. (Photo: AP)

In the News

February 24, 2020

Beyond the spectacle: What global think tanks think about NaMoste Trump

Rahul KanwalIndia Today

Vipin Narang quoted: Trump's India visit appeals to his "vanity", says Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at the MIT. "I think at a higher level for President Trump, this is a vanity exercise. I think he loves the idea of being adulated in the crowds," Narang said.

In the News

February 24, 2020

Dreaming big in a small country

MIT News

The MISTI Global Startup Labs (GSL) program, now in its 20th year, has expanded its partnerships to include Uruguayan institutions to promote entrepreneurship and data science across Latin America.

 A monkey sits atop a billboard that shows India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi welcoming President Trump ahead of his visit to Ahmedabad, India, on Monday. (Ajit Solanki / Associated Press)

In the News

February 22, 2020

Huge rally will highlight Trump’s visit to India

Eli Stokols, Shashank BengaliLos Angeles Times

Vipin Narang quoted: “For Trump to get up and go all the way to India … it’s a pretty big deal and a validation for Modi in the face of this withering international criticism,” said Vipin Narang, an associate political science professor at MIT. “There’s a lot of focus on the lack of deliverables, but for Modi, the trip itself is the deliverable.”

Luis Videgaray, director of MIT’s AI Policy for the World Project, talking at his Starr Forum lecture, hosted by the Center for International Studies, on February 19, 2020.

In the News

February 20, 2020

A road map for artificial intelligence policy

Peter DizikesMIT News

In a Starr Forum talk, Luis Videgaray, director of MIT’s AI Policy for the World Project, outlines key facets of regulating new technologies.

Singapore tightens rules for entry from China

In the News

February 18, 2020

Fact-checking Tom Cotton's claims about the coronavirus

Tara SubramaniamCNN

Vipin Narang quoted: "the thing that weighs against the claim is that it's a terrible bioweapon. If you were engineering a bioweapon this would have the absolute opposite of the characteristics you would want." Cotton's other hypotheses were more plausible, Narang said. "If the claim is that there were bats at the facility that may have had the novel coronavirus and there was a lapse in security and protocol, it's possible but it doesn't sound like there was anything intentional," Narang said. "Unless there's strong evidence to the contrary that should be the operating assumption."

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Sunday repeated a debunked conspiracy theory about coronavirus and Chinese bioresearch. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

In the News

February 17, 2020

Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked

Paulina Firozi The Washington Post

Vipin Narang quoted: After Cotton’s Sunday remarks, Narang said, “These kinds of conspiracy theories are unhelpful. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful, and it’s borderline irresponsible to — and it’s without evidence, so at this point it’s a conspiracy theory — peddle it,” he said. “Cotton should spend more time funding the agencies in the United States that can help contain and combat the virus rather than trying to assign blame.”

Ben Chang

In the News

February 10, 2020

Might technology tip the scales?

Leda ZimmermanDepartment of Political Science

Benjamin Chang, a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science, is using his understanding of computer science to explore the impacts of artificial intelligence on military power, with a focus on US and China.

 Copies of President Trump’s FY2021 budget are shown after being delivered to the House Budget Committee on February 10, 2020, in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In the News

February 10, 2020

The 2 most controversial national security items in Trump’s new budget

Alex WardVox

Vipin Narang quoted: Experts are split on whether a nuclear modernization program, which gained steam in the Obama years, is a good idea. “If you’re going to have the force, make sure it’s safe, secure, and reliable,” says Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert at MIT. “Some, not all, of the force and the delivery platforms are decades old.” He added that “it just can’t sit and rot.”

Public service announcements telling people to wear protective face masks are placed in a subway as the coronavirus continues to threaten Beijing on Thursday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI |

In the News

February 6, 2020

China's 'grand gestures,' propaganda aim to calm fears about coronavirus

Elizabeth ShimUnited Press International (UPI)

Grad student Kacie Miura quoted: In building the new hospitals, the Chinese government could have had other objectives aside from treating sick patients. Authorities allow the construction to be viewed live online, creating a spectacle and an image of a government "in control of the situation and capable of accomplishing monumental tasks," Miura said.

Nuclear sub's torpedo room

In the News

February 4, 2020

US military deploys new type of nuclear weapon seen as key to countering Russia

Ryan Browne, Barbara Starr and Zachary CohenCNN

Vipin Narang quoted: The real difference is the ability to threaten "and penetrate targets deep in adversary territory that current aircraft deliverable low yield nuclear weapons cannot reach," according to Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT.

Harvard University professor Charles Lieber is surrounded by reporters as he leaves the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston Thursday. (Charles Krupa/AP)

In the News

February 3, 2020

Beyond Harvard prof's arrest, increased scrutiny over research conflicts sparks 'a whole lot of anxiety'

Carrie JungWBUR

Joel Brenner quoted: "The FBI and other counterintelligence officials have been warning of these problems for at least 20 years now," he said. "The academic community has been very skeptical."

In a photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a medical staff member wearing a protective suit works in the department of infectious diseases at Wuhan Union Hospital on Jan. 28. (Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua/AP)

In the News

January 29, 2020

Experts debunk fringe theory linking China’s coronavirus to weapons research

Adam Taylor The Washington Post

Vipin Narang quoted: Vipin Narang, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in a message on Twitter that a good bioweapon “in theory has high lethality but low, not [high], communicability” and that spreading such ideas would be “incredibly irresponsible.”

Hatice Cengiz has been an outspoken advocate for justice for Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018. Photograph: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In the News

January 24, 2020

Saudi Arabia 'planned to spy on Khashoggi's fiancee in UK'

Stephanie Kirchgaessner The Guardian

Hala Aldosari quoted: “Saudi Arabia is trying to put a lid on the whole [Khashoggi] thing, so it is understandable that they would try to make sure that Hatice’s voice and advocacy is limited,” said Hala Aldosari, a Saudi activist and fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “All sorts of unlawful behaviour continues, nothing has changed.”

In the News

January 22, 2020

Who is Mohammad bin Salman?


Hala Aldosari is featured on the first international podcast of Who Is. This epidsode explores the 34-year-old trillionaire in charge of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, and the story of a monarchy that is using its wealth to secure its global legitimacy and expand its influence.

Associate Professor Noelle Eckley Selin (left) and former graduate student Emil Dimanchev SM ’18 used a new method to analyze the impacts of current and proposed state-level renewable energy and carbon pricing policies. Their study yielded some unexpected outcomes on the health benefits of the policies they examined.

In the News

January 22, 2020

Study: State-level adoption of renewable energy standards saves money and lives

Nancy W Stauffer MIT News

MIT researchers review renewable energy and carbon pricing policies as states consider repealing or relaxing renewable portfolio standards.  Emil Dimanchev SM ’18, a senior research associate at the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, had his outreach relating to the Ohio testimony supported by the Policy Lab at the MIT Center for International Studies. 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 14.     Reuters

In the News

January 21, 2020

Saudi Arabia runs squalid, abusive jails for women disowned by their male guardians — a forgotten chapter in its rush to champion women’s rights

Bill BostockBusiness Insider

Hala Aldosari quoted: “How women are treated is very much determined by the staff,” she said. “It’s worse when they bring low-skilled people in to work with women left with no supervision. Because of the gender division and lack of transparency they abuse power, and there’s no way for the women to address the issues.”

An aerial image of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Gloucestershire. Picture: Ministry of Defence

In the News

January 19, 2020

Spies being left exposed in the digital age

Ben MacintyreThe Times

Joel Brenner quoted: Everyone leaves digital footprints, whether intentionally or otherwise. Joel Brenner, a former top counterintelligence official, told Yahoo: “It’s extremely difficult now to run cover operations when so much is known and can be known about almost everybody.”

Jim Walsh

In the News

January 14, 2020

Iran nuclear deal continues to unravel

Tonya MosleyWBUR Here and Now

Iran suspended all limits on its production of enriched uranium required by the deal after the American drone strike that killed Iran's top military commander this month. Jim Walsh discusses the implications.

Hala Aldosari

In the News

January 13, 2020

How exiled Saudi Arabian activists are quietly building a resistance movement

Ty JoplinAl Bawaba

Al Bawaba spoke with Hala Aldosari, a Saudi human rights activist who stands on the vanguard of digitally organizing a resistance movement to the Saudi regime while in exile.

Jim Walsh

In the News

January 8, 2020

After Iran strikes back, President Trump indicates a de-escalation

Jim BraudeWGBH Greater Boston

Jim Walsh, a senior research associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program, joined Jim Braude to discuss the events of the last week and what else may be on the horizon in US-Iran relations.

David Edelman

In the News

January 8, 2020

How an Iranian cyberattack might start


David Edelman quoted: Iran has promised retaliation following the US killing of its top commander, and one form that could take is cyberattacks. Iran is not considered the most sophisticated cyber actor, but David Edelman said it has attacked and been the target of attacks, so it has an unusual amount of experience with hacking.

Joel Brenner

In the News

January 8, 2020

What's the path forward on Iran?

Tiziana Dearing, Jamie BolognaWBUR Radio Boston

Now a senior research fellow at CIS, Joel Brenner—former inspector general of the National Security Agency and head of US counterintelligence in the Obama administration—joins us to make sense of where we are with Iran and what happens next.

President Trump spoke at the White House on Wednesday after missile strikes by Iran on two bases housing American troops in Iraq.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

In the News

January 8, 2020

Trump’s inaccurate statements about the conflict with Iran

Linda QiuThe New York Times

Jim Walsh quoted: Mr Trump’s claim blaming the nuclear accord for Iranian aggression rather than his withdrawal from it is “almost an inverted reality,” said Jim Walsh, a research associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program and an expert on nuclear issues and the Middle East.

Jeanne Guillemin Meselson

In the News

January 7, 2020

Jeanne Guillemin, biological warfare expert and senior advisor at MIT, dies at 76

Michelle EnglishMIT News

Jeanne Guillemin was described by The New York Times as a “scientific sleuth” and the Washington Post as a “pioneering researcher” in obituaries that lauded her groundbreaking work in biological warfare — a field where men had long outnumbered their female colleagues.

 Iranians tear up a US flag during a demonstration in Tehran on January 3, 2020.

In the News

January 6, 2020

Iran drives another stake into the heart of the nuclear deal

Tim ListerCNN

Vipin Narang quoted: Vipin Narang, Associate Professor of Political Science at MIT, points out that despite Iran's announcement that it won't abide by enrichment levels and quantities set by the JCPOA, "it is still quite far from having enough enriched uranium for a bomb, let alone a functional arsenal because...of the JCPOA."

Senior Research Associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program Dr. Jim Walsh on the U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian general Soleimani.

In the News

January 5, 2020

Iraqi parliament votes to expel US troops from country

Fox News

Senior Research Associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program Dr Jim Walsh on the US airstrike that killed top Iranian general Soleimani.

Posing for a picture with a poster of Maj Gen Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad on Saturday.Credit...Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the News

January 4, 2020

Did the killing of Qassim Suleimani deter Iranian attacks, or encourage them?

Amanda TaubThe New York Times

Vipin Narang quoted: “He was a monster, no question,” said Vipin Narang, an MIT political scientist who has studied efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program. “But there’s a consequentialist argument as well.”  Dr Narang said the deterrence argument “assumes a unitary, rational actor.” While he said that could apply to Iran, which may want to avoid war, it may not apply, say, to Hezbollah, which Iran backs in Lebanon.

The US claimed responsibility for an air raid in Baghdad that killed General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds force, raising fears that oil supplies could be disrupted in the Middle East [File: Haider al-Assadee/EPA]

In the News

January 3, 2020

Oil prices surge after US attack kills senior Iran military chief

Al Jazeera

John Tirman quoted: "Certainly Iran is going to retaliate in some way - retaliations will come, as they have in the past, in what we call an asymmetrical way. They're not going to confront the US directly but they will perhaps attack Saudi tankers again, maybe Saudi oil refineries again," John Tirman told Al Jazeera. "The fact is that Iran will come back and hit US assets or the assets of US allies in the region, and they will do so repeatedly over a period of time," Tirman said.

In this March 27, 2015 file photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, sits in a religious ceremony at a mosque in the residence of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran. A U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport on Friday Jan. 3, 2020 killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Soleimani was considered the architect of Iran’s policy in Syria. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader v

In the News

January 3, 2020

Qassem Soleimani long targeted the United States

Sean Philip CotterBoston Herald

Jim Walsh quoted: “Soleimani was a central figure in Iran — he was Iran’s military representative to the Middle East,” Jim Walsh, an expert on terrorism and the Middle East at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the Herald. “There was sort of a cult of personality about him, and people thought of him as being talented.”

An Iranian woman covers her face with a picture of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani during a demonstration in Tehran against the killing of the top commander in a U.S. strike in Baghdad. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

In the News

January 3, 2020

Qassem Soleimani, top Iranian general, killed in US airstrike in Baghdad

Peter O'Dowd WBUR Here & Now

Peter O'Dowd speaks with security analyst Jim Walsh about the US killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, which is expected to have larger repercussions.

Jim Walsh

In the News

January 1, 2020

A look at the national security challenges facing the US in 2020

Robin YoungWBUR Here & Now

Robin Young speaks with security analyst Jim Walsh about the stalled nuclear talks with North Korea and the US embassy protests in Baghdad.

Kim Jong Un at the the 5th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang.STR / AFP - Getty Images

In the News

January 1, 2020

North Korea signals end of nuclear-test suspension, promises 'new' weapon

Alexander SmithNBC News

Vipin Narang, a politics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who focuses on nuclear weapons, tweeted the potential to negotiate on this issue is "the door we should urgently push on."

President George W Bush

In the News

January 1, 2020

George W Bush slips in and out of town as Poodle naps

Nick WelshSanta Barbara Independent

John Tirman interview and research heavily referenced in piece about mortality rates and cost of war.