CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND COOPERATION, STANFORD UNIVERSITY
Nuclear risks changed dramatically when the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991. Suddenly the world was threatened more by Russia’s weakness than its strength. Never before had a country with the capacity to destroy the world experienced such dramatic political, economic and cultural turmoil. The United States and much of the world was concerned about loose nukes, loose nuclear materials, loose nuclear experts and uncontrolled nuclear exports. I will describe how scientists and engineers at the DOE nuclear laboratories joined forces with those at the Russian nuclear institutes for more than 20 years to avoid what looked like the perfect nuclear storm. I will also reflect on how today’s strained political relations between Washington and Moscow have curtailed that cooperation to the detriment of a safer and more secure world.
Siegfried Hecker is a professor (research) in the Department of Management Science and Engineering and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, (FSI) at Stanford University. Hecker was the co-director of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) from 2007-2012. He served as the fifth director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1986-1997. Hecker received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in metallurgy from Case Western Reserve University. His current professional interests include plutonium research, cooperative nuclear threat reduction with the Russian nuclear complex, global nonproliferation, the expansion of nuclear energy, and threats of nuclear terrorism. He is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among other awards, he received the National Academy of Engineering Arthur M. Bueche Award; the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Science Diplomacy, the Presidential Enrico Fermi Award, the Leo Szilard Prize, the Los Alamos National Laboratory Medal, the Department of Energy’s E.O. Lawrence Award, and the American Nuclear Society Seaborg Award.