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U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Time for the Concerned Public to Intervene Again

Time: Nov. 29, 2018, 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Location: Shemin Auditorium, Shaffer Art Building

Kameshwar C. Wali Lecture in the Sciences and Humanities for 2018 presented by Frank von Hippel

The last massive intervention by the concerned public in U.S. nuclear weapons policy was by the grassroots Nuclear Weapons Freeze Movement and its European counterpart in the early 1980s.  One result was to shift the U.S. government from insisting that the Soviet Union believed it possible to fight and win a nuclear war, and therefore so must we; to repeated joint summit statements by Presidents Gorbachev and Reagan that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”  More tangibly, the result was a reduction in the global stock of nuclear warheads from about 65,000 in 1991 to about 10,000 today.
The effect has worn off, however, and two separate but related nuclear arms races have begun: between the U.S. and Russia and the U.S. and China, plus proliferation crises with the “rogue” states, North Korea and Iran.
von Hippel will explain the perverse dynamics underlying these crises, discussing possible initiatives to mitigate them, such as a U.S. "no-first use" policy, restoration of limits on ineffective but provocative ballistic missile defenses, resumption of US-Russian nuclear reductions along with a cap on China’s nuclear buildup, and strengthening the nonproliferation regime with bans on the separation of plutonium and on national uranium enrichment capabilities.

Biography: Frank von Hippel is Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs emeritus at Princeton University where, in 1975, he co-founded and co-chaired for three decades the Program on Science and Global Security. In 2006, he co-founded the International Panel on Fissile Materials and co-chaired it for its first nine years

During 1983-90, he worked with President Gorbachev’s advisor, Evgenyi Velikhov, to develop a number of successful initiatives to end nuclear testing, end the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for weapons, and eliminate excess weapons materials.

He has advised U.S. Administrations and Congress on nuclear security issues since the Carter Administration. During 1993-4, he served as Assistant Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and helped develop U.S.- Russian cooperative initiatives on nuclear threat reduction.

Simon Catterall, Physics