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From the Director

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (right) meets with the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board, which includes the Belfer Center’s Graham Allison and William Tobey (far end of the table, left and right).
Department of State

From the Director

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Winter 2011-2012

Author: Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

 

During the Cold War, one of the signal contributions of scholars at the Harvard Kennedy School was to encourage communication between Soviet and American scientists seeking to reduce the threat of a nuclear Armageddon. The work of Paul Doty, John Holdren, and many others in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs was rightly acknowledged with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 to the Pugwash Conferences.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1991, we can note with some satisfaction the ongoing role of the Belfer Center in addressing what Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both called “the single largest threat to American national security.”

Two decades later, three strategic nuclear arsenals (Ukraine, Kazakh -stan, Belarus) have been zeroed out, 14,000 tactical nuclear weapons (left in the 14 former Soviet republics) have been eliminated, and not a single nuclear weapon has been found loose in international arms bazaars or another country.

This summer, specialists from the Belfer Center published the first ever joint threat assessment by U.S. and Russian experts on the threat of nuclear terrorism. The report’s recommendations have been closely studied in Washington and Moscow. This effort was led by senior fellow Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Associate Professor Matt Bunn, senior fellow Will Tobey, fellow Simon Saradzhyan, and Executive Director for Research Kevin Ryan, working with experts from the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies in Moscow.

Tobey, a former senior official in the National Nuclear Security Administration, is director of our U.S. Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism. That project is an important conduit for cooperation.

This fall, former Kennedy School Associate Dean Robert Blackwill and I co-chaired a new report examining why Russia still matters crucially to the United States—especially with Vladimir Putin now poised to return to the presidency next year. This report was produced jointly by the Belfer Center and the Center for the National Interest in Washington, with whom we have worked on U.S.-Russian relations for more than a decade.

It is with pride that we applaud Ash Carter as he begins work as deputy secretary of defense. President Obama chose him for this position on the basis of his outstanding work as under secretary for acquisitions and logistics in the first two years of the Obama administration.

Other Belfer alumni with whom Ash will be working at the Defense Department include Under Secretary for Policy Michèle Flournoy, Deputy Under Secretary Jim Miller and now Eric Rosenbach, executive director for research from 2007 to 2010, who recently became deputy assistant secretary of defense for cybersecurity. This is a field where the Belfer Center is deepening its expertise thanks in part to Venky Narayanamurti and Joe Nye, who are building up the new Explorations in International Cyber Relations project.

In these ways, the Belfer Center is staying relevant and involved as the challenges shift from Cold War strategic nuclear weapons to contending with the threats of terrorist drones and dirty bombs.

 

For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.

For Academic Citation:

Allison, Graham. "From the Director." Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, Winter 2011-2012.

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