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.”
Daniel Poneman is a Senior Fellow with the Project on Managing the Atom and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Centrus Energy Corp., which provides enrichment, fuel, and fuel services to utilities that operate nuclear reactors throughout the world. Prior to his appointment in October 2014, Poneman had been Deputy Secretary of Energy since 2009, in which capacity he also served as Chief Operating Officer of the Department. Between April 23, 2013, and May 21, 2013, Poneman served as Acting Secretary of Energy.
Poneman's responsibilities at the Department of Energy spanned the full range of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, including fossil and nuclear energy, renewables and energy efficiency, and international cooperation around the world. He led 2009 negotiations to address Iran’s nuclear program and participated in the Deputies' Committee at the National Security Council. He played an instrumental role in the Department’s response to crises from Fukushima to the Libyan civil war to Hurricane Sandy, and led the Department’s efforts to strengthen emergency response and cybersecurity across the energy sector.
Poneman first joined the Department of Energy in 1989 as a White House Fellow. The next year he joined the National Security Council staff as Director of Defense Policy and Arms Control. From 1993 through 1996, Poneman served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Nonproliferation and Export Controls at the National Security Council. Prior to assuming his responsibilities as Deputy Secretary, Poneman served as a principal of The Scowcroft Group for eight years, providing strategic advice to corporations on a wide variety of international projects and transactions. Between tours of government service, he practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C. – first as an associate at Covington & Burling, later as a partner at Hogan & Hartson.
Poneman received A.B. and J.D. degrees with honors from Harvard University and an M.Litt. in Politics from Oxford University. He has published widely on energy and national security issues and is the author of Nuclear Power in the Developing World and Argentina: Democracy on Trial. His third book, Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis (coauthored with Joel Wit and Robert Gallucci), received the 2005 Douglas Dillon Award for Distinguished Writing on American Diplomacy. Poneman is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.Last Updated: Jul 1, 2021, 3:24pm