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Matthew Bunn

Mailing address

Belfer 325
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
79 John F. Kennedy Street, Mailbox 54
Cambridge, MA, 02138

Downloadable CV

Matthew Bunn

Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom

Member of the Board

Contact:
Telephone: (617) 495-9916
Fax: 617-495-8963
Email: matthew_bunn@harvard.edu

 

Experience

Matthew Bunn is a Professor of Practice at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. His research interests include nuclear theft and terrorism; nuclear proliferation and measures to control it; the future of nuclear energy and its fuel cycle; and policies to promote innovation in energy technologies.

Before joining the Kennedy School in January 1997, he served for three years as an adviser to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he played a major role in U.S. policies related to the control and disposition of weapons-usable nuclear materials in the United States and the former Soviet Union, and directed a secret study for President Clinton on security for nuclear materials in Russia. Previously, Bunn was at the National Academy of Sciences, where he directed the two-volume study Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium. He is the winner of the American Physical Society's Joseph A. Burton Forum Award for "outstanding contributions in helping to formulate policies to decrease the risks of theft of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials," and the Federation of American Scientists' Hans Bethe Award for "science in service to a more secure world," and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of the Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and a consultant to Pacific Northwest and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association.

Bunn is the author or co-author of more than twenty books and book-length technical reports (most recently including Transforming U.S. Energy Innovation), and over a hundred articles in publications ranging from Science and Nuclear Technology to Foreign Policy and The Washington Post. He appears regularly on television and radio.

Bunn holds a doctorate in technology, management, and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is married to Jennifer Weeks; they have two daughters.

 

 

By Date

 

2016

Vlad Podvorny

July 18, 2016

"Cancel the Plutonium Fuel Factory"

Op-Ed, The Hill

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom and Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Twenty years ago, in the Clinton Administration, both of us helped launch a program to build a factory to turn the excess plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons into fuel for nuclear reactors.  At that time, the full life-cycle cost estimate to make this plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel was expected to be less than $2 billion dollars.  Now, however, with official cost estimates ballooning to over $30 billion, it is clear that the project has become too expensive.  It is time to stop throwing good money after bad and pursue cheaper alternatives that will serve our national security better.

 

 

(AP Photo)

Summer 2016

"Wins and Losses at the Final Summit"

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom

The fourth and final nuclear security summit saw some serious progress, but also some missed opportunities. Matthew Bunn looks at significant wins and some losses at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

 

 

March 31, 2016

"Will the Nuclear Security Summit Help Stop Terrorists from Getting the Bomb?"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Martin B. Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom and Nickolas Roth, Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

"Today and tomorrow, world leaders will gather for what will likely be the final international summit on security for nuclear weapons and the materials needed to make them—a key tool for preventing nuclear terrorism. The last time this group met, at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in the Hague, they declared that preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons or weapons-usable materials remained “one of the most important challenges in the years to come.” Yet, since then, nuclear security has improved only marginally, while the capabilities of some terrorist groups, particularly the Islamic State, have grown dramatically, suggesting that in the net, the risk of nuclear terrorism may be higher than it was two years ago..."

 

 

March 29, 2016

"Belgium Highlights the Nuclear Terrorism Threat and Security Measures to Stop it"

Op-Ed, The Huffington Post

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom

"As world leaders gather for the fourth nuclear security summit this week, in the aftermath of the horrifying terrorist attacks in Brussels, it seems likely that Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel will have more to say than anyone else — both about real nuclear terrorist dangers and about real steps taken to improve nuclear security...."

 

 

March 27, 2016

"Nuclear security: Continuous improvement or dangerous decline?"

Op-Ed, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, Martin B. Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom, William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Nickolas Roth, Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

"World leaders face a stark choice at the final Nuclear Security Summit later this week: Will they commit to efforts that continue to improve security for nuclear weapons, fissile materials, and nuclear facilities, or will the 2016 summit be seen in retrospect as the point at which attention drifted elsewhere, and nuclear security stalled and began to decline? The answer will shape the chances that terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, could get their hands on the materials they need to build a crude nuclear bomb...."

 

 

March 21, 2016

Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Continuous Improvement or Dangerous Decline?

Report

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Martin B. Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom and Nickolas Roth, Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

In this new report, Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Continuous Improvement or Dangerous Decline?, Matthew Bunn, Martin Malin, Nickolas Roth, and William Tobey provide a global reality check on nuclear security. They note that effective and sustainable nuclear security capable of addressing plausible threats is the single most effective chokepoint preventing terrorists from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

 

 

Flickr

January 7, 2016

"Nuclear nervousness"

News

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom and Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Two analysts from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, Matthew Bunn, co-principal investigator of the Project on Managing the Atom, and Gary Samore, the center’s executive director for research, spoke with the Harvard Gazette about North Korea’s nuclear program and what the latest test means for relations between the government of leader Kim Jong-un and other nations, and how the blast may affect global efforts to limit nuclear weapons.

 

 

January 2016

The Cost of Reprocessing in China

Report

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, Hui Zhang, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom and Li Kang

Faced with the twin pressures of a still-quickly growing economy and unprecedented smog from coal-fired plants, China is racing to expand its fleet of nuclear power plants. As it does so, Beijing is considering making large capital investments in facilities to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and recycle the resulting plutonium in fast neutron reactors that breed more plutonium. This report outlines the enormous costs China would likely face if it decides to build large-scale plants for reprocessing plutonium from spent nuclear fuel and recycling the plutonium in fast neutron reactors.

 

2015

September 15, 2015

"Implementing the Iran Nuclear Deal: Balancing Confrontation and Cooperation"

Media Feature

By Martin B. Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom, Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom and William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”—the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran—will enter the implementation phase within months. US policy makers must now consider how best to strengthen the accord as implementation approaches, and in how best engage Iran as implementation proceeds. In this discussion, nonproliferation experts William H. Tobey and Matthew Bunn discuss how to strike an effective balance between cooperation and confrontation in dealing with Iran on the nuclear agreement and beyond. The discussion was moderated by Martin B. Malin and followed by Q&A with the audience.

 

 

September 2, 2015

"Looking Back and Looking Forward on the Iran Deal"

Op-Ed, The Hill

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom

Intelligent men and women of good will are lining up on both sides of the fateful choice Congress faces in September: whether to approve or reject the nuclear deal with Iran. Part of what’s going on is an unfortunate mixing together of two quite different questions, one looking backward and one looking forward.  First, should the Obama administration and other major powers have gotten a better deal?  Second, given the deal the negotiators did produce, whatever its warts, is it better for U.S. and world security to accept it or reject it and try to force Iran to agree to a better one?

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Managing the Atom

The Project on Managing the Atom (MTA) conducts and disseminates policy-relevant research on nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.