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

Lessons Learned from Past WMD Negotiations

| June 24, 2015

Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Cardin, and Members:

It is my honor to address the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today on the question of lessons we can learn from earlier nuclear arms control negotiations and agreements to meet the current challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear progress.  Let me begin by applauding the leadership and members of the Committee for your determination to assure that the U.S.-led campaign to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is the most effective it can be, and for insisting that Congress plays its essential role in this process.

One of my favorite quotations comes from the German philosopher, Nietzsche, who observed that: “The most common form of human stupidity is forgetting what one is trying to do.”  I have a framed version of that quotation in my office and try to think about it every day.

In the case of Iran’s nuclear challenge, what are we trying to do?  In one line: to prevent a nuclear weapon exploding on the territory of the United States or our allies.  When asked, “What was the single largest threat to American national security?” Presidents Obama and George W. Bush agreed 100%.  As both have said repeatedly: The single largest threat to American national security is nuclear terrorism.

The transcript of Graham Allison's complete testimony can be downloaded below.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Allison, Graham. “Lessons Learned from Past WMD Negotiations.” Testimony to United States Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations. 114th Congress, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2015.