In this episode of Machiavelli in the Ivory Tower, hosts Sarah and Hanna speak with Dr. Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and current Distinguished Professor of Practice at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). Their conversation centers on Dr. Hecker’s forthcoming book, Hinge Points: An Inside Look at North Korea’s Nuclear Program (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2023). Dr. Hecker offers insights into the DPRK’s dual-track strategy of diplomacy and nuclear development and highlights missed opportunities when Washington might have been able to channel Pyongyang toward the elimination of nuclear weapons and did not. He shares insights gleaned from his many visits to North Korea and reflects on both the future of US policy toward the DPRK and the importance of facilitating engagement between scientists and diplomats.
Topics discussed include:
The DPRK’s dual-track strategy of diplomacy and nuclear development
Hinge points: missed opportunities in US policy towards the DPRK
Reflecting on the most consequential hinge points
Reasons for US policy failures
In-person engagement with proliferation-averse actors
Why a singular focus on DPRK denuclearization has been problematic
What next for US policy on the DPRK?
What scientific and policy communities can learn from each other
Machiavelli in the Ivory Tower is a new podcast series on arms control, nonproliferation, and international security issues. In each episode, hosts Sarah Bidgood and Hanna Notte discuss cutting-edge research and what it means for the most pressing challenges facing policymakers today. In conversation with expert guests, Sarah and Hanna break down these complex topics in ways that bridge the divide between scholarship and the real world. Join them each month as they bring Machiavelli into the Ivory Tower!
The third episode of the series, published on April 25, 2022, deals with nuclear escalation and the war in Ukraine. Sarah and Hanna invite Dr. Kristin ven Bruusgaard, a Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oslo, to discuss the implications of Russian nuclear strategy and the modernization of its conventional forces for the ongoing war in Ukraine. Will the Russian government likely decide to resort to nuclear weapons? Tune in to find out.
In the second episode, Sarah and Hanna speak with Dr. Mariana Budjeryn, a research associate with the Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. Dr. Budjeryn discusses her new book, Inheriting the Bomb: The Collapse of the USSR and the Nuclear Disarmament of Ukraine. In their conversation, the hosts and guest draw connections between Dr. Budjeryn’s findings and the war in Ukraine, focusing in particular on the implications of Russia’s unprovoked invasion for nonproliferation and arms control and Russia’s spurious allegations that Ukraine is pursuing a nuclear capability.
In the first episode, Sarah and Hanna speak with Prof. Scott Sagan, who is the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, about the relationship between nuclear doctrine and the law of armed conflict, related ethical and legal concerns, the implications for US policymakers and military planners, recommendations for the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review, and more generally the dangers inherent in “siloing” legal and strategic studies.
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