The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
The surprise disclosure that North Korea has begun enriching uranium is yet another stark reminder of the grave threats of nuclear proliferation. On Wednesday Dec. 1 at 6 p.m., the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard Kennedy School will host a very timely debate on the unimaginable dangers posed by nuclear weapons, from terrorism to accidents to miscalculation.
The "Future of Nuclear Weapons" forum will show clips from the recent documentary, Countdown to Zero, which argues not only for reducing nuclear weapons but dismantling them completely. Join Valerie Plame Wilson, the former CIA agent who pursued nuclear traffickers, along with Graham Allison, Matthew Bunn and Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Harvard Kennedy School specialists on nuclear terrorism and proliferation.
Countdown to Zero was directed by Lucy Walker and produced by the Academy Award winning producers of An Inconvenient Truth, Lawrence Bender and Participant Media. The film open in U.S. theaters in July and became available on DVD last month.
Valerie Plame Wilson resigned from the CIA in 2005, two years after her undercover work was leaked by the Bush Administration. Her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had criticized the Administration over its allegations that Iraq was pursuing weapons of mass destruction. At the CIA, Plame Wilson spent years working to track and thwart the nuclear black market. Since leaving the agency, she has campaigned for nuclear disarmament through the Global Zero movement. Her autobiography, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House, has been made into a full-length movie.
Matthew Bunn, associate professor of public policy, is also co-principal investigator for the Project on Managing the Atom in Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is the author of the annual Securing the Bomb report, commissioned by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, on the status of nuclear proliferation and the threat of nuclear terrorism. During the Clinton Administration, he served as adviser to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he played a major role in U.S. policies on disposing of weapons-usable nuclear materials in the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center, was a CIA officer for 23 years, where his roles included chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Department; he also spent three years as director of intelligence and counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy. He has just published excerpts from a forthcoming research study examining the religious debate in the Islamic world over nuclear weapons.
Moderator Graham Allison, the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, was founding dean of the Kennedy School. A former special adviser to the Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration, he was assistant secretary of defense for policy and plans in the Clinton Administration, and was a member of the Pentagon's Defense Advisory Board from 1985 to 2000. He is author of Nuclear Terrorism: the Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe.
This is not a ticketed event so no registration is required. The Forum is at 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge. The forum event will be webcast live on the Institute of Politics web site.