Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University

Photo Credit: Reuters

Nuclear Security and Risk

CISAC Platform

The Center for International Security and Cooperation works to reduce the dangers posed by nuclear weapons, as well as to improve the safety and security of nuclear material and reactors, by influencing policymakers and Track II diplomacy. This foundation is built on research, teaching and training the next generation of security scholars.

Our researchers have published a number of landmark studies and books. They include John Lewis' and Xue Litai's China Builds the Bomb; David Holloway's Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy; Lynn Eden's Whole World on Fire; and Scott Sagan's The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons. Rod Ewing, currently chair of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, has authored more than 650 research articles about materials sciences and nuclear materials. Siegfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Lab and a senior fellow at CISAC, has written numerous of articles about his collaborations with the Russians and former Soviet states to clean up Cold War nuclear test sites.

CISAC fellowships in this area are funded by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Stanton Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation of New York. These fellowships enable pre-and postdoctoral scholars, as well as faculty scholars, to spend an academic year at Stanford immersed in their research and writing that is both scholarly and policy-relevant.


Track II Diplomacy

CISAC researchers travel widely in an effort to better understand global nuclear capabilities and vulnerabilities, and they share their findings through articles and policy briefings to the U.S. and other governments, international organizations and agencies, policy and scholarly communities. Lewis, a CISAC co-founder, has made scores of visits to China and North Korea, and has hosted numerous government officials from both countries at Stanford. These interactions have enhanced international cooperation as well as deepened our own understanding of Chinese and North Korean military and nuclear capabilities. 

Likewise, in his capacity as CISAC co-director from 2007-2012, Hecker has visited Russia, the former Soviet States, and North Korea dozens of times and, in particular, has made key contributions to U.S. policymakers’ understanding of the North Korean nuclear program.

Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons & Nuclear Risk Reduction

CISAC researchers are engaged in critical policy work aimed at discouraging proliferation and ensuring that nuclear materials are fully accounted for and handled safely. Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry is a member of the so-called “Gang of Four” statesmen calling for a world free of nuclear weapons. He heads up the Preventive Defense Project and the William J. Perry Project, both devoted to nuclear security. Sidney Drell, a theoretical physicist and a CISAC co-founder, has been a leading voice in the arms control community for decades.

Hecker directs the Nuclear Risk Reduction Project, which addresses the changing nuclear threat following the end of the Cold War and the rise of international terrorism. Perry and Hecker co-teach the popular Stanford class, “Technology and National Security.” Sagan has built a partnership with Hiroshima in an effort take the city from Ground Zero to a catalyst for peace.

Finally, CISAC researchers and scientists study the future of the nuclear energy industry and identify ways to ensure the safe management of dual-use technologies and the effects of nuclear energy on the environment. CISAC’s Ewing, Hecker, Michael May and Chaim Braun all played significant roles in investigating and reporting on Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown and continue to advise on the best techniques for the safe handling and disposal of nuclear waste. Former CISAC fellows Kate Marvel and Toshihiro Higuchi helped to investigate and write comprehensive reports on the extent of the nuclear fallout.

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