ATB_EP_4

The True Cost of Our Nuclear Arsenal

After the successful explosion of the world’s first nuclear bomb with the Trinity test in New Mexico, Robert Oppenheimer, the leader of the Manhattan Project that created the bomb, recalled a line from the Bhagavad Gita: 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' Kenneth Bainbridge, who directed the Trinity test, said to Oppenheimer, “We are all sons of bitches now.” Many of the scientists who had labored so long to produce a nuclear weapon to help defeat Nazi Germany were now gravely concerned about what they had created and believed they had a responsibility to warn the public. A group of them quickly founded an organization and journal called The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, aimed at educating the public about the new nuclear threat.

The symbol of their work is the Doomsday Clock, which each year is reset to indicate how close the world is to nuclear disaster. Current Bulletin president Rachel Bronson tells us that the current setting is now 100 seconds to midnight--the closest to doomsday the clock has ever been. Sharon Squassoni talks about why the Bulletin experts believe that the dangers are greater than they ever were during the height of the Cold War. Dr. Alex Wellerstein tells the story of how the Bulletin and the Doomsday clock came to be. Governor Jerry Brown sees the ominous new Clock setting as a call to action.

One of the biggest factors fueling their concern is the rise of a new nuclear arms race, often disguised by the anodyne term “modernization.” Hear how the U.S. and Russia are planning to spend upwards of 2 TRILLION DOLLARS on new and even more dangerous nuclear weapons. Our guests include two congressmen, Ted Lieu and Adam Smith, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, Joe Cirincione, and Tom Collina from Ploughshares Fund, nuclear scholar Sharon Weiner, and Jon Wolfsthal, former national security advisor to Vice-President Biden. They will talk about what is being planned and why, the destabilizing effects of proposed new weapon systems, and the staggering costs that will hamstring future spending on both non-military and conventional military budget items.

First atomic bomb: Trinity
First atomic bomb: Trinity
Gov. Jerry Brown, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, fomer UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon at 2020 Doomsday Clock unveiling
Gov. Jerry Brown, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, fomer UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon at 2020 Doomsday Clock unveiling
Estimated modernization costs, from Arms Control Association
Estimated modernization costs, from Arms Control Association

Guests:

Rachel Bronson @RachelBronson1
President and CEO, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Jerry Brown @JerryBrownGov
Ex-governor of California; Executive Director, Science and Security Board, and Executive Chair, Governing Board of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Joe Cirincione @Cirincione
Former President, Ploughshares Fund; author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late

Tom Collina @TomCollina
Director of Policy, Ploughshares Fund, co-author, THE BUTTON: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump

Ted Lieu @RepTedLieu
A representative for California's 33rd congressional district, Colonel in the Air Force Reserves

Bill Perry @SecDef19
19th U.S. Secretary of Defense; co-author, THE BUTTON: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump

Adam Smith @RepAdamSmith
The congressman representing Washington’s 9th district; chair, House Armed Services Committee

Sharon Squassoni   @SquassoniSharon
Director of the Global Security Project, Union of Concerned Scientists; Member, Science, and Security Board of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Dr. Sharon Weiner
Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University; author, Our Own Worst Enemy? Institutional Interests and the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Expertise

Dr. Alex Wellerstein @Wellerstein
Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Stevens Institute of Technology; creator of NukeMap

Jon Wolfsthal @JBWolfsthal
Non-resident fellow at the Managing the Atom Project at the Belfer Center at Harvard University and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; formerly special assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director for Arms Control and Nonproliferation at the National Security Council; member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board; Director of the Nuclear Crisis Group, an independent project of Global Zero


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