13 Items

The main hall for the IAEA’s Talks on Supplying Nuclear Fuel for Iranian Research Reactor, Vienna, Austria, 19 October 2009. 

Dean Calma/IAEA


The Deal That Got Away: The 2009 Nuclear Fuel Swap with Iran

| January 2021

With concerns and uncertainties regarding Iran’s nuclear future persisting to this day, this paper seeks to review the TRR negotiations and the context in which they unfolded in order to capture some of the lessons of negotiating with Iran regarding its nuclear program, primarily from the viewpoint of senior U.S. officials involved at the time. The paper is also informed by the personal perspective of one of the authors (Poneman) who led the U.S. delegation in the 2009 Vienna talks, and who, prior to this publication, had not publicly elaborated on his experience. The other author (Nowrouzzadeh), who supported the TRR talks in an analytical capacity within the U.S. Department of Defense, also conducted an extensive interview with Poneman as part of their collaboration on this paper. By drawing on existing literature and recent interviews with several senior U.S. officials involved in the negotiations now that over ten years have passed, the authors seek to draw useful lessons from this episode that can assist policymakers in understanding Iran’s nuclear decision-making and in their continued efforts to shape the future trajectory of Iran’s nuclear program.

Book - MIT Press

Double Jeopardy: Combating Nuclear Terror and Climate Change

| May 2019

In his new book, Double Jeopardy: Combating Nuclear Terror and Climate Change, Daniel Poneman makes the case that we can use nuclear power to combat climate change even as we reduce the risks of nuclear terror. But doing so will require well-crafted laws and policies, implemented with an ethos of constant vigilance and embedded in a culture that weaves safety and security goals into the fabric of our nuclear programs.

North Korean Hwasong-12 ballistic missile is paraded across Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File

Analysis & Opinions - Medium

Talk to Kim, But Carry a Big Stick

| Feb. 12, 2018

North Korea’s latest launch — a missile that could have reached Washington — starkly confirms a possible nuclear attack by Pyongyang as the most urgent and consequential security threat we face. Having worked on the North Korean nuclear issue under three Presidents, beginning with George H.W. Bush, I have never witnessed a more dangerous moment.

A worker drives a tractor near the cooling towers of the Perry Nuclear Power Plant looming in the background in North Perry, Ohio, on May 18, 2011.

AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File

Analysis & Opinions - Cleveland.com

Shutting Down Nuclear Plants is a Bad Bet for Ohio Consumers

| Nov. 05, 2017

On Mother's Day weekends, going back more than 30 years, I drive from my parents' house in Toledo to Magee Marsh, to see a stunning array of brilliantly colored warblers feed among the cottonwoods and box elders, gaining the strength they will need to cross Lake Erie during their spring migration. I know we are getting close when I see the cooling towers of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant.

Electric cars sit charging in a parking garage at the University of California, Irvine, January 26, 2015.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

American Energy Policy

| April 2017

When the country faces a major threat, a dedicated minority recognizes it and lobbies hard for strong actions to address it.  Stakeholders with powerful vested interests in the status quo lobby just as hard (sometimes harder) to block the proposed actions. In many cases, the advocates for change never get past this stage.

Astronaut John Glenn sits in his Houston, Texas, home among souvenirs and trophies of his career on Feb. 13, 1967.

AP Photo

Analysis & Opinions - Medium

John Glenn’s Other Legacy: A Safer World

| Dec. 13, 2016

On February 20, 1962, I was a first grader at Lincolnshire School in Toledo, Ohio. That day all of the teachers marched their classes down to an unused classroom, designated the “audio-visual room”, where an old black-and-white TV sat atop a rickety metal cart on wheels. Awaiting the launch, we saw condensate from the cryogenic liquid propellant bleeding off the Mercury Atlas booster and tried to imagine what it must be like for the man in the tiny black capsule sitting on top. Like millions of American kids, I fantasized about being an astronaut, suited up my GI Joe in a pressure suit and had him put his Mercury capsule through pitches, yaws, and rolls, but never dreamed that I would ever meet that American hero.

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

American Nuclear Diplomacy

| August 4, 2016

In this report, American Nuclear Diplomacy: Forging a New Consensus to Fight Climate Change and Weapons Proliferation, Former Deputy Secretary of Energy and Belfer Center Senior Fellow Daniel Poneman writes that we face two existential threats: nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change. Each, he says, stems from human origins. Both must be fought aggressively.

"Multiple studies confirm the grim truth that, even if all nations fulfill their Paris Climate Agreement emissions pledges, the world will still far overshoot the 2°C warming limit scientists say we must not exceed to prevent devastating climate impacts. Carbon-free nuclear energy can help close the gap. But can we expand its environmental benefits without increasing the risks of nuclear terror?"

Poneman outlines a diplomatic strategy and tough-minded, bipartisan policies to get us there.

Workers, union members and other supporters rally to provide a financial incentive for nuclear power and low-carbon emissions at the State Capitol, in Springfield, Illinois on May 6, 2016

AP Photo/Sara Burnet

Analysis & Opinions - Medium

Decision Time for Illinois Clean Energy

| May 22, 2016

The United States and other countries have set their sights on building a clean energy future. Whether that transition unfolds slowly or accelerates is an open question. But over the long run, most experts agree that we must head toward a low carbon energy future — not simply to avert catastrophic climate change, but also to reap the economic benefits of clean energy.

Cooling towers of Nuclear Power Plant Dukovany, older of the two Czech nuclear power plants, Czech Republic pictured on March 27, 2016.

(AP Photo)

Analysis & Opinions - Medium

Two Reasons to Restore American Nuclear Leadership

| March 30, 2016

Over the next four weeks, world leaders will gather to confront two existential threats. On March 31, they will join forces in Washington to step up the fight against nuclear terrorism. On April 22, they will assemble in New York to sign the Paris agreement to fight climate change.

While these threats call for a complex web of tough responses, one common thread runs through them: both would benefit from strengthened American leadership in nuclear energy.