42 Events

People watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with superimposed letters that read: "North Korea has made nuclear warheads small enough to fit on ballistic missiles" at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

AP/Ahn Young-joon

Seminar - Open to the Public

A Brief History of Nuclear Weaponization

Wed., Apr. 18, 2018 | 10:00am - 11:30am

Littauer Building - Fainsod Room, 324

Speaker: Amit Grober, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

How fast can a state develop a nuclear device? How do nuclear weapons programs evolve from political decisions? The issue of “nuclear latency” has been widely studied. Yet, the nonproliferation community has endorsed a single measure for latency - the capability to produce fissile materials (highly enriched uranium or plutonium). A direct consequence is that scholars, policy-makers, and nonproliferation experts sometimes trivialize or underestimate the preconditions and requirements of “weaponization” – the robust process of developing, manufacturing, and testing an initial nuclear explosive device. The seminar will draw on multiple historical case-studies to provide insights into the dynamics of nuclear weaponization and will explore their relevance to current nonproliferation policies.

 

Cascade of gas centrifuges used to produce enriched uranium. This photograph is of a the U.S. gas centrifuge plant in Piketon, Ohio from 1984.

U.S. Department of Energy

Seminar - Open to the Public

The Past, Present, and Future Development of International Safeguards for Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plants

Wed., Apr. 11, 2018 | 10:00am - 11:30am

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Mark Walker, Ph.D. Candidate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

This seminar presents the results of archival research undertaken in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany into the origins of international safeguards approaches for gas centrifuge enrichment plants (GCEPs). 

Blogtrepreneur/Flickr

Blogtrepreneur/Flickr

Seminar - Open to the Public

Solving the Jurisdictional Conundrum: The Use of Domestic Civil Courts to Disrupt Overseas Illicit Procurement

Wed., Apr. 4, 2018 | 10:00am - 11:30am

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Aaron Arnold, Associate Project on Managing the Atom; Assistant Professor at Curry College

Over the past two decades, the United States has increasingly turned to targeted sanctions and export restrictions, such as those imposed against Iran and North Korea, in order to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). One vexing problem, however, is how to contend with jurisdictional hurdles when the violations occur overseas, in countries that are unable or unwilling to assist US enforcement efforts. To solve this problem, US prosecutors are turning to strategies with significant extraterritorial implications— that is, exercising legal authority beyond national borders. One such tool is to use civil legal procedures to seize assets linked to sanctions or export control violations in jurisdictions that lack cooperative arrangement with US enforcement agencies. While this may be an attractive strategy to bolster enforcement efforts against overseas illicit procurement such tools are not without consequence.

Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Reactors

Peretz Partensky/Flickr

Seminar - Open to the Public

Can we break the link between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons?

Wed., Mar. 28, 2018 | 10:00am - 11:30am

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: AMB Laura S. H. Holgate

Advanced nuclear reactors offer enormous promise as carbon-free solutions for a range of energy and development challenges due to their potentially lower cost, flexibility, and enhanced safety. To meaningfully influence climate change, these reactors will need to be widely deployed, including in countries without extensive nuclear experience and in designs using novel fuel cycles. And policymakers, regulators, and civil society will need to have confidence that these reactors are designed not only with safety and cost in mind but also with due consideration to whether terrorists, insiders, or even governments can sabotage a facility or acquire or divert nuclear material that could be used for weapons. Meeting these challenges requires more than a slogan of “proliferation resistance” and relates to security- and safeguards-by-design as well as fuel cycle characteristics. Reactors that incorporate security- and safeguards-by-design could become more attractive exports, maximizing economic and national security benefits for the United States.

Aerial view of Los Alamos National Laboratory, "1995 aerial TA-3 south to north".

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Seminar - Open to the Public

Managing the National Security Labs Effectively: What Really Helps?

Wed., Mar. 21, 2018 | 10:00am - 11:30am

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Charles F. McMillan, Los Alamos Director, Retired

The National Security Labs (Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories) are essential to the care of the US nuclear deterrent as well as an understanding of what is happening globally in the nuclear domain.  Whether one looks at the 2010 or the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, the requirements that the labs must address are very similar.  What can be done to enable effective coordination between the Department of Energy and the Labs to ensure that, as partners, they meet the nation's needs?  What drives the complexity of lab operations?  How can it be managed?   Charles McMillan brings leadership experience from two of these laboratories to a dialog on these topics.

Gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment recovered from the BBC China in Italy, en route to Libya, in 2003. They were later taken to the Y-12 complex in the USA where this picture was taken (with a Y-12 guard also in the picture).

U.S. Department of Energy

Seminar - Open to the Public

Countering WMD-related Illicit Trade: Insights from White Collar and Business Crime

Wed., Mar. 7, 2018 | 10:00am - 11:30am

Littauer Building - Fainsod Room, 324

Speaker: Daniel Salisbury, Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

Individuals and entities from the private sector have long contributed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), acting as middlemen and suppliers. Over the past decades, trade in WMD-related goods has become increasingly regulated, and illicit trade increasingly criminalized. Despite the clear role that these actors have played in recent proliferation cases, supplying North Korea and Iran among others, the conceptual literature on proliferation behavior has largely continued to focus on the state level. This seminar will draw on concepts from criminology, and particularly the study of white collar crime, to provide insights into the behavior of these non-state suppliers and middlemen, and to generate more effective means of countering their activities.
 

A mockup of the Fat Man nuclear device.

U.S. Department of Defense

Seminar - Open to the Public

The Elite Taboo Against Using Nuclear Weapons: Evidence from Wargames

Wed., Feb. 21, 2018 | 10:00am - 11:30am

Littauer Building - Fainsod Room, 324

Speaker: Reid Pauly, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

Is there a normative prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons? Recent scholarship has cast doubt on the existence of a norm of nuclear non-use among the American people. But the public does not make decisions about using nuclear weapons. In this presentation, Pauly investigates the willingness of American policymakers to use nuclear weapons through the history of political-military wargaming. He tests competing theories about the use and non-use of nuclear weapons by examining both whether strategic elites were willing to use nuclear weapons in different scenarios and how they explained those decisions.