Experts discuss nuclear weapons, security

Experts on nuclear issues spoke at ASU’s Tempe campus Tuesday afternoon about the roles of nuclear weapons and security in the U.S. today.

Kyle Longley, panel moderator and history and political science professor at ASU, said the discussion was held because “the issue of nuclear proliferation is one of the most important [ones] facing the United States of America foreign policy today.”

NUCLEAR NEWS: Former Deputy U.S. Military Representative to NATO John Adams speaks Tuesday afternoon as ASU hosts are Partnership for a Secure America panel discussion. (Photo by Scott Stuk)

Partnership for a Secure America, a nonprofit organization that works to increase bipartisanship in foreign policy and national security, asked Longley to put together the panel.

The panel included retired Brig. Gen. John Adams, a former deputy U.S. military representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; Christopher Ford, former U.S. Department of State special representative for nuclear nonproliferation; and Joy Drucker, executive director of Partnership for a Secure America.

Drucker said that during the Cold War nuclear issues were everywhere, but today “nuclear security issues have largely dropped out” of public discourse and debate.

She said some questions that need to be raised today should include, “What is the role nuclear weapons do and should play?” and, “Are we spending money wisely?”

Ford said nuclear nonproliferation is not having a dramatic amount of success.

He said many countries continue to resist safeguards, and compliance with the nuclear nonproliferation treaty is dismal.

Adams talked about reducing reliance on nuclear weapons and current efforts to secure nuclear materials.

“Nuclear materials, in large, are dangerous and need to be secured,” Adams said. “We can’t do enough in this effort.”

He also pointed out that discussion about nuclear issues is a good thing, whether it’s talking or exchanging data.

Both Ford and Adams said the public needs to be educated on nuclear issues.

Adams said many people don’t understand nuclear issues and if they gain a better understanding of what is good and bad, they can make better judgments.

“What we may think isn’t particularly bad, others might think [is],” Adams said.

He said last year UA closed down the small nuclear reactor it had, and many people went into a panic because they didn’t know it was there.

Adams said if the concerned citizens of Tucson had some knowledge about nuclear issues, that type of reaction probably wouldn’t have occurred.

Longley said it is important to discuss nuclear issues because of the possible hazards.

“The potential threat to the United States as well as its allies makes this a significant issue, especially because of the mass destruction that could occur as a result of nuclear weapons,” Longley said.

Reach the reporter at sophia.charchuk@asu.edu