The R&D of nuclear weapons in the US has become a profit-making business, managed at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories by a for-profit entity led by Bechtel Corp. So it may seem fitting that nuclear diplomacy also be conducted more by private individuals. Could observations made by such individuals—in North Korea, say, and at that country’s behest—inadvertently renew fears of North Korean nuclear aggression and lead to political pressure for more US weapons R&D? In that context, Sig Hecker fails to mention that he was a signatory to a 2010 letter, also signed by nine other former directors of our nuclear weapons labs, criticizing the Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review for being too restrictive of continuing R&D on nuclear weapons. Is Hecker really describing a new form of “scientific nuclear diplomacy,” or is he advocating for more politicization of the already difficult politics of nuclear weapons?
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Ken LaGattuta; Discussions in scientific nuclear diplomacy. Physics Today 1 February 2012; 65 (2): 8–9. https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.1413
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