« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#210 — The Logic of Doomsday

2020-07-09 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with William J. Perry and Lisa Perry about the ever-present threat of nuclear war. They discuss the history of nuclear weapons, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the present threat of accidental nuclear war, nuclear terrorism, unilateral disarmament, the psychology of deterrence, tactical nuclear weapons, cybersecurity, details of command and control, nuclear proliferation, the steps we could take toward safety, strategic missile defense, nuclear winter, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
What incense Podcast Missus, SAM Harris, ok,. This is yet another occasion were in putting the whole podcast outside the pay. While we ve been doing this alive during the pandemic for certain topics where I feel responsibility to reach the widest possible audience and seem to be doing package on these sorts of topics of late. So the topic today is the threat of nuclear war, and as you're here, I think, the prospect of our blundering into a nuclear war? their by accident or political miscalculation
probably the greatest risk we face and it's dangerous, compounded by the fact that almost no one appears to be thinking about this risk. So this podcast is another say I remind you that if you value what I'm doing over here, subscribing is what makes it possible. And am it's what helps this platform grow and is what makes it a place where I can talk about anything. Now, as chance would have it, we are coming up these seventy fifth anniversary of the atomic bomb in about a week show I sixteen. Is the seventy fifth anniversary of Trinity, the explosion of the first atomic bomb Add the trinity test site and Almah Gordo New Mexico Whatever the merits or necessity of our building the bomb, and even using it to end the war with Japan, I can certainly be debated. But what is
absolutely clear to any. Studies. The ensuing seventy five years is that These were seventy five years of folly nearly suicidal folly, and this has been a chapter in human history of such reckless stupidity, TAT has been kind of moral oblivion and there's no end in sight. Rather, we have simply forgotten about it. We have forgotten about the city, nation. We are in every day of our lives. Is it really did the call to think about much less understand the enormity of our error here is stupefying in some basic sense is like we were minced seventy five years ago to rig
all of our homes and buildings, to explode and then we just got distracted by other things right and most of us live each day. Totally unaware that the status quo is as precarious as, in fact is so in the history of this period is written. Our descendants will surely ask what the hell were. They thinking- and we are the people- of whom that question will be asked. That is, if we don't annihilate ourselves in the meantime, what the hell are we thinking? What are our leaders thinking we have been stuck for. Nearly three generations in a posture of defending civilization, warm engine in that, we are by threatening to destroy it at any moment,. And given our capacity to make mistakes
given the increasing threat of cyber attack? The status quo grows less tenable by the day, the first book, read about the prospect of nuclear war, was Jonathan shells, the fate of the earth originally came out in the new Yorker in nineteen. Eighty two is interesting. That shells work here stand exactly at them, in point on the timeline between the world of today and then Engine of the bomb was so thirty. Seven Years had elapsed since the trinity test, when shall wrote the fate of the earth. And another thirty seven years in a few months and change, have elapsed since he wrote that book. If you haven't read, it is a beautifully written and
Amazingly, sustained exercise in thinking about the unthinkable and I'd like to read you a few passengers to give you a sense of it does from the beginning, starting a few sentences in these bombs were built as weapons for war, but their significance greatly try Sands war and all its causes and outcomes they grow of history. Here they threatened to end history. They were made by men, he threatened to annihilate man, they're, a pit into which the whole world can fall a nemesis of all human intentions, actions and hopes only life itself which they threatened to swallow up, can give the measure of their significance in spite of the immeasurable importance of nuclear weapons. The world has decreased and on the whole, I think about them very much. We have thus far failed to fashion or even to discover within ourselves anymore
nor intellectual or political response to them. This peculiar failure of response, in which hundreds of millions of people acknowledged the presence of an immediate unremitting threat to their existence and the existence of the World they live in, but you know, in about it. A failure in which both self interest and fellow feeling seemed to have died has itself been such a striking. Nominal, but it has to be regarded as an extremely important part of the nuclear predicament, as this has existed so far, end quote so there shall get sat strangeness of the status quo, where the monster is in the room and yet We have managed to divert our attention from it and I love this point. He makes his violation both of self interest and fellow feeling, our capacity to ignore this problem somehow
M, psychologically impossible. It is a version of really all of our priorities, both personal and with respect to our ethical commitment. Two others a little bit later on. He talks about this state of mind, Furthermore, because denial, was a form of self protection, if only against anguish in thoughts and feelings, does it contain something useful and perhaps even in its way necessary to life. Anyone who invite people to draw signed the veil and look at the peril face to face is at risk of trust Passing on innovations that are part of our humanity, I hope these reflections to proceed with the utmost possible respect for all forms. Refusal to accept the unnatural and horrifying prospect of a nuclear holocaust, so there shall, as being more tactful, then I'm being here by admitting that this denial is on some level necessary to get on with life. But
It is nonetheless crazy me year after year after year, we are running the risk of mishap here and whatever the risk you can't keep just rolling the dies, and so it seems time to ask. When is this going to end A shell describes the prospect of clear war or nuclear accident about as clearly as anyone can, this is from later in the book. Let us consider, for example, some of the possible ways in which a person in a targeted country might die he might be incinerated by the firewall or the thermal pulse he be legally irradiated by the initial nuclear radiation? He might be crushed to death or hurled his death by the blast wave or its debris. He might be lethal irradiated by the local follow he might be burned to death in a firestorm
He might be injured by one or another of these effects and then die his wounds before he was able to. Make his way out of the devastated zone in which he found himself. He might die of starvation because economy had collapsed and no food was being grown or delivered or because existing local crops had been killed by radiation or because the local ecosystem had been ruined or because the ecosphere of the earth as a whole was collapsing. He might, I have called for lack of heat and clothing or of exposure for lack of shelter he might be killed, people seeking food or shelter that he had obtained, he might Ivan Illness spread an epidemic he might be killed by. Exposure to the sun. If you stayed out I do on following Syria ozone depletion or it might be killed. Any combination of these perils, the water almost no end to the ways to die in and after a holocaust,
each person has only one life to lose. Some one who has been killed by the thermal pulse can't be killed again in an. Democrats. Therefore, anyone who wishes to describe a holocaust is always at risk of depicting scenes of devastation That, in reality, would never take place because people in them would already have been killed off other earlier scene of devastation, the town? because made all the more confusing by the fact that the causes of death and destruction do not exist. I end by side in the world, but often encompass one another. In widening rings. Thus, if at all Now that the Holocaust rendered the earth uninhabitable by human beings Then all the more immediate forms of death would be nothing more than redundant preliminaries, leading up to the extinction of the whole species by hostile environment in much the same way of an airplane, is hit by gunfire and thereby cause to crash. In all the passengers. It makes little difference whether the shots also killed a few of the passengers in advance.
The crash. On the other hand, if the larger consequences, which are less technical than the local ones failed to occur in the local Ones would have their full importance again and then job all further on here. There are two further specks of a holocaust which, though they do not further obscure the factual picture. Nevertheless, vex our understanding of this event, the first although in imagination we can try to survive, the whole perspective scene of destruction. Choir into how many would live and how many would die and how far the cat Perhaps the environment would go under a tax of different sizes and piling up statistics and how many square miles would be legally contaminated or what percentages population would receive first, second or third degree burns or be trapped. Rubble of it's burning houses. We'll be irradiated to death, no one, actually experiencing a holocaust will have any such overview, the news of other parts. Necessary to put together. That picture would be one of them
things that were immediately lost and each surviving person his vision, trash clay Foreshorten by the collapse of his world and his impressions clouded by his pain shock. Bewilderment and grief would see only as or, as whatever scene of chaos and agony happened to lie at hand for would not be only such absurd actions as industry and society and the environment there would be destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. He would also be over and over again the small collections of cherished things, known landscapes and beloved people. That made up the immediate contents of individual lives, the other tickled. Our understanding is that when we strained picture what the scene would be like after a Holocaust, we tend to forget that, for most people- and perhaps for It wouldn't be like anything because they would be dead to depict the scene it would appear to the living is, to that extent of falsification,
and the greater the number killed, the greater the falsification. The right vantage point from which to view Holocaust is that of a corpse. But from that vantage point, of course, there is nothing to report anyway. The writing is wonderful and is still an important book. Thirty seven years, hence, and in today's episode, I'm speaking too. A man who has been presiding over this impossible situation, since nearly the beginning, Because I am speaking with William J Parry and also with his granddaughter LISA Parry as many of you know why imperious served in many capacities here with respect to our stewardship of nuclear waste. And air navigation of the cold war. He was the you, as under secretary of defence, for real
urgent engineering in the Carter administration, and then he was secretary of Defence under President Clinton, he oversaw the development of these strategic nuclear systems that are currently in our arsenal and his offsets prodigy ushered in the age of stealth and smart weapons, and other technologies that change the face of modern warfare in twenty fifteen he founded they William J Perry Project, outlined vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and he's been trying to educate the public on, How urgently we need to take practical steps to reduce the danger of the status quo. He hasn't new book out. Called them the new nuclear arms race and presidential power from room into Trump, and The button goes into this terrifying history and the terrifying status quo he's also emeritus, professor Stanford University.
And as you here at ninety two years old William Perry is quite worried about our situation. He continues to work to convey that concern to the general public, a mention it in Comcast, but if you haven't seen his video on the prospect of nuclear terrorist, which is only one facet of the problem of nuclear risk. You really should see it it's a great animation that brings home just how crazy our situation is. With respect to that variable alone, also join me there's LISA, Perry, LISA is the communications. Actor for the winged J Perry Project as such is the granddaughter of Secretary Perry, and she's not dedicated to helping sound the alarm about the modern, of nuclear weapons and today,
and she has a new podcast titled at the brink. You can put it at the brink, dot, Org. Just download it in your pocket catcher and that gas is well worth listening to. And it is a great honour to talk to them, both secretary, Perry and LISA Perry, and, as you might expect, we discuss the air present threat of nuclear war. We talk about the history of nuclear weapons. Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the cuban missile crisis, the present threat of accidental nuclear war, nuclear terrorism, unilateral disarmament, the psychology of deterrence so called tactical nuclear weapons, cyber security, the details of command and control. Nuclear proliferation. Some the intermediate steps. We could take toward safety the prospects of strategic missile defence.
Nuclear winter and other topics now without further delay, I bring you secretary willing. J Perry and LISA Parry. I am with Secretary, William Perry and his granddaughter LISA Perry. Thank you both for joining. Thank you you're through a happy to do it So, Secretary Perry, I will love, I have already told you, minister, all over your honorific, I'm default, calling you bill, which you already what me as inoffensive. So thank you for that. But you have a book coming out in time old, the button, the new nuclear arms race and presidential power from Truman to Trump, and you also have started the William J Perry Project, William, J Perry, DOT, Org, the purpose of which is to educate the public on the dangers of nuclear weapons
in the twenty first century and oh yeah, we were just talking offline about how we ve gone to sleep on this topic. So I do want to get into the psychology of this both of you and LISA. Happily, you have a new pie cast title the at the brink, which discusses your grandfather work and the ongoing dangers of nuclear weapons, and when that comes out, I will I will remind people thought through the spot gas in whatever other podcast. I release that point that they should tune into it, because I do think this is probably still the most pressing issue of our time and it is quite true changing to recognise how little attention It is getting even from people like myself who acknowledge that it's probably the most pressing issue time is probably the most pressing issue of every man: well, I've been alive, and yet most of my moments had been spent blithely
ignoring this issue, so I want to welcome both of you, and perhaps we can begin with you bill. What is your history of engagement with This topic, I have been involved as a consultant on nuclear issues, dating back to Eisenhower. I've been sleigh advising presidents since President Carter. So in the earlier administrations. I was an anonymous person working studies and Lead administration, I would not admit anonymous where would you have been during the cuban missile crisis, which is often thought to be that the model greatest peril we ve ever experienced. You have aim a moment to moment experience of this. Is that something that you, I did marriage again it anonymous barometer, important role. I was called back before we have a new there's, a cuban missile crisis. We.
Before we even her debt term. I was called back to Washington to help by the Deputy director CIA, and he asked me to had a small team must have been six of us. I think. Who job was to study the intelligence was coming in every day, particularly the photographs from the overflights, but they communications. I was just as well and to write a report by the end of the day, which added assess whether or not the medium range missiles which were being deployed in Cuba were operational. Yet how long? How long will it be before the became operational? This report got to pay Kennedy thing in the morning, and helped him decide how much more time. He had for diplomacy, so as a very important role in that in the face of it, I share the views were urging a attack on Cuba military attack Trying to hold out offers long as possible to give the phone chance to work.
But he wanted to know how long he had to do. That is the purpose of this study We're doing each day was the basis of it. Vice how many more daisy had for diplomacy. I didn't appreciate until very recently I just record a package with Fred Kaplan who, who wrote a book focusing on the the experience of each administration, that engaged with our nuclear policy- and I wasn't aware of the degree to which Kennedy was essentially being goaded to war and the mistaken impression- we got that he threw stared Khrushchev down and Christian blinked there was a sort of back channel deal around pulling our nukes out of Turkey, which is what the escalated the crisis, and I think that wasn't revealed until twenty years later. What lesson do you draw
that moment in history and how is your thinking about nuclear weapons evolved since well, I was close enough to ours happening, that I believed by everyone. Then I went in the analysis centre, I believe, He's gonna be my last day on earth. I knew present but being pressured to take military action. I could see how dangerous the military actual being likely would be. It ask late what I did not the time in the president and not know, was it in addition to the medium range missiles which were not yet operational is there, so we get out also deployed so called tactical. Nuclear missiles they were already there? They ve already loaded with nuclear warheads, and they already and if any,. Military commander that unit had you authority to use them show of Kennedy had accepted the advice of his mill. Their advisers to attack human particular food, Meda invasion of Cuba.
Our troops undoubtedly would ve been decimated on the beach head with tactical nuclear weapons and a general nuclear where we truly of call it now. We didn't know that at the time so in Kennedy assessed the like The cuban missile crisis erupting into account driving equally well is one chance in three heaved May data settled without the knowledge, the dose tactics, the weapons were already there and already operational Sally the situation is much more dangerous than he realize. I would assess it likely that any Castro
Knowing what I now know it better than fifty fifty and take me back to the beginning of our thinking about these weapons and their use- and I guess the real beginning is our first use of them in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the time. How do you view our use of all of us to make us and Nagasaki is harder or perhaps easier to dismisses a misuse of nuclear weapons? But what did you think and what do you think about our use at Hiroshima? Well, it's time I see, I can easily tell you what I thought. Then I d seventeen year old. About where you go into the army, you would to Japan. I was actually sent to jail I got that was after the war was over so A few months after the bomb was dropped. I went in the army and was end after basic training under do the army of Occupation in Japan
so I was wholly in favour of its time. It was only later that I began to see the ramifications well beyond the cricket: the war we, which remind but the history here, because this was the war in Germany had already been one. Roma Hitler was already dead at that point, and this was really a store of ending the war with Japan. Earlier then it would have ended. Otherwise it will really, I dont think correctly from but I don't think there was any concern that we were going to lose the war with Japan. But we were the thinking. We would want many many american lives by ending it emphatically with this first use of nuclear weapons. Just plead ignorance here, what was the just vacation for Nagasaki and why not let the implications of the bombing of Hiroshima had their psychological effect. Wider was so quickly follow on with the boy
we have neither Saki while the in the outcome was never in doubt, What was endowed is how many death would be resolved. We required for that to happen We had at the time and invasion force already on the way to Japan and being assembled to go to Japan. It would have been Innovation force even larger than one we had at how Beach, so they should have been a big invasion and very costly invasion. That was one point. Second related point was that japanese army was not prepared to surrender even with invasion. They were prepared to fight on the beach just in the towns, in the hills, on the mountains, fight to the death. So you would have been a very ass the invasion in new, and I not yet we thought of coach about American overnight The problem has been millions of japanese deaths resulting from that long belonged, guerrilla warfare showed
at a time and even to this day. I have no doubt that the alternative to drop the bomb would have been a very. Invade even after we dropped the first bomb Japanese army was not prepared to surrender. And even after he dropped a second bomb, the army was shown up, appeared to surrender Then. This only occurred. When did the emperor, did something was totally unprepared. He intervened and he went on the radio and announced to surrender the we were still opposed to surrender and in fact it was a where did attempt to make a palace coup after he after he announced to surrender, so they resistance disarray. During a Japan was very strong. And it was by the most powerful group in Japan, it down the japanese army, so any assessment of The bomb dropping has to be made with the understanding of what the alternative was, and we have paid
information, then in any better information. Now on that on how recalcitrant the Japanese, Army, was being now unwilling. They were to surrender. I think it is also important historical context to understand Truman didn't actually so when eat when he was vice president, he was not in full armed about the Manhattan project. He did not know about it until he became the president. They told him but they had been working on this project and they had developed. An atomic bomb came quoted as quite a shock to him. And so when it was actually the generals who brought forth this plan to Truman saying we have these weapons and we have put together this plan to attack these cities in Japan and originally actually it was not Hiroshima who was the first city that was chosen, and then they moved it to her former, but as a historical evidence,
indicates they somewhat misled, determine to believe that they were targeting military targets, not specifically civilian cities, so ensure, when agreed to this plan. He thought that they were mostly going retargeting military targets and just with the amount of communication and how long it took for information to get It wasn't really until the Nagasaki bomb was dropped, that they were really understanding. The numbers of deaths that we're coming out from these incidents is, and that is when Truman actually went in, they had a plan to continue to drop bombs, They were going to draw up more than just Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Nagasaki and the and the reports were coming in, of the hundreds of thousands of deaths that Truman went and said no more. I will not let you drop anymore bombs,
and took the power away from the generals to have any authority over these weapons, and in fact that is the history of the beginning of what eventually would become presidential sole authority over nuclear weapons. Was that transfer of military to civilian power and making sure that nuclear weapons stayed under civilian control, the make sure and try to take this power away from any? potentially power. Hungary's heard, no, it Harry members which, as you know, you know, then, should have worked into its own problem. So we have just landed really in the center of the morass here, because this is not an easy problem to think about it, as we have already demonstrated. The actual utility, under certain circumstances, of having these weapons in fact, has even plausible to say that the lives were saved by the use of.
The first atomic bombs in World war, two and we ve already demonstrator a willingness, obviously to use them under certain circumstances and, as you point out, LISA this they transfer to civilian control, which make so much sense, and in light of that, first experience is now its own enormous problem. In the presence of someone like Donald Trump, whose followed every moment of the day they the so called nuclear football. There were in the process of rethinking that or trying to inspire our society, to rethink that and try to find a way through this that is going to check all them boxes that we want to check this allows allowed to arrive at all the topics we want. We want to arrive at and systematic way, but I'm here's the general picture that worries me in it
getting from having begun listening to your podcast LISA and becoming aware of bills, work and reading other sources here, there's a logic of nuclear proliferation and deterrence, which seems somewhat inescapable and diabolical, because having nukes is the difference that makes a difference on the world stage, and so many case Countries just treat you differently once you have nukes, they don't tend to invade. You in others, he's in why a country like North Korea or Pakistan or India would want nukes or IRAN. Now it's not crazy for them to want these weapons, because it's a fact of the matter that This power matters and to Parents only works between nations on the assumption that a country will actually use its nukes. So the fact that
we believe that nuclear arm countries will use their nukes to respond to a any significant aggression and, of course, and it I've nuclear for a strike. That's the psychological reality that gives the game theory its motive force. But this status quo. The fact that we have countries and individuals who have of nuclear weapons, on hair trigger alert and with launch on warning protocols- and we have this demonstrated at least professed willingness to use these weapons under certain circumstances- is what makes the possibility of stumbling into an accidental nuclear war so real and no bill you in your book, you write that actually, the likely of an accidental nuclear war is much higher than eight
war started in earnest because some countries initiated first strike on another. Then, if you have a first point of purchase, you want to take on this problem bill, but it just seems to me that the status quo should really be intolerable to us, because we have a world that has been rigged to explode, really based on mishap right, based on misinformation, based on prospect of faulty radar or cyber attack, or even the direct judgment of a single individual. How do you think about the current moment, because I had one were fact here: the doomsday clock that has been registering are alarm
four in a seventy someone hears now is at its closest point to midnight. Then it has been at any point in history is now a hundred seconds to midnight in twenty twenty and Indiana one thousand nine hundred and fifty three. It was a two minutes to midnight and it was at around four to five minutes to midnight. During most of the cold war, so, according to the clock, we are at more risk than we've ever been, and yet it seems to me that most people have gone entirely too slow on this issue. So talk to us about what it's like to be on the brink, though the first point I would make is that I agree with the bulletins assessment and reboot and without minister seconds or I would simply say that the danger of a nuclear catastrophe today.
Is at least his greatest was at any time during the cold war, and yet almost no one in the public understand their reality. So that's just one important were important. Point the second thing to consider is: we have assessed, the danger for decades. Now is being the danger of a surprise attack on the United States, while we called during the cold war about out of the blue and we geared up policies- and we give a fresh structure to deal with that threat, I believe the reality today, even the reality during the cold war was that was never the main threat. The threat is always been the danger of an accidental war, the danger blundering into a nuclear war, either to a political miscalculation or through a technical error. We
had several examples of each of those during the cold war, which, happily, we survived, one of them, of course, the most significant chancellor political miscalculation with the cuban missile crisis, as we talked about earlier, I believe the chance of that having erupted Android, absolutely catastrophic, no clue where we probably better than fifty fifty. There were other political miscalculation, North Dakota, but that's perhaps the most- that's the poster child of them beyond. That was a possibility of technical. Accident and we had a lease three false alarms in the United States, it I'm aware of at least two in the Soviet union, that I'm aware of and any of those gotta resulted in an accidental nuclear war. So The real danger during the cold war was not about out of the blue. The real danger, what blundering hindrance
the way, and I believe that that is the same situation today and with at least the same likelihood today not Russia or North Korea ran you name. The country is going to deliberately lodge an attack against the United States But then we will blundered into some kind of a nuclear exchange with Russia or with one of these is one of the smaller part. Just incentive demonstrate Thee the level of randomness Anne and really how dangerous and how likely we could really to stumble into an accidental nuclear war. There is this really, pretty crazy story of actually what happened during the cuban missile crisis. There is an inch a air base in the loose Minnesota where, a new was late at night and patrols- were patrolling the basin
in its in the middle of the cuban missile crisis. Everyone was on very high lurch at the time, and someone noticed that there was some in trying to climb the fence into the air base and they went in a panic and try to set off the alarm for an intruder, and they actually they hit the wrong switch invade instead set off in alarm, which then notified the base To then launch their there, nuclear armed planes to start working towards a possible attack. It turned out that it was about a bare was climbing offence. At an air base in them though, of the cuban missile crisis and something as simple as that could have stumbled us into a nuclear war,
and its truly when we were at these moments, these politically charged moments when things are at their most scary, when it's the easiest for us, too, humble. It's part of the reasons why the fire and fury rhetoric from President Tromp was so concerning because whether you believe he would actually follow through or not through just putting out the notion that he might super charges, the atmosphere for people to interpret
things that they might not otherwise and to make decisions based on those interpretations which could really led us to this escalating situation. I think the logic of deterrence is pretty straightforward and as fairly solid, but part of the issue is that there are actually some assumptions that we make about this situation that is in place for determines to hold up in. Some of those assumptions include. We assume that the people involved are rational actors, and we also assume that everyone involved has accurate and complete information which, unfortunately, especially in crisis situations, is not always true and when you dont have fallen
fleet information and make decisions based on incomplete information. Deterrents can fall apart. You we're talking about human minds here and human emotions and human assumptions and the psychology of confronting a risk and just to unpack more what you said about the fire and fury moment, so what we have there is President Trump threatening Nuclear WAR s eyes at the first present to do that. Many have done that since the first and only time we used these weapons be understood that we have not renounced the option of a nuclear first strike
the world is on notice that we and and other nuclear powers are poised to use these weapons is our stated policy that the under some circumstances, we will use them even response to conventional aggression and in trumps case, he was threatening their use in response to near provocation, not conventional war, making on the part of North Korea, but just further nuclear testing, or even just further verbal threats that move the line of Bela constitute a little further, but it often thought that
we would make an enormous gain, a normal step toward safety if we would renounce a first strike policy and had merely had a second strike policy. But as you look at this, it should be clear that, even if we had just a second strike policy, even if we told the world that under no circumstances would we be the first to use these weapons, we would merely respond to it in attack upon us with a second strike. Even
That policy leaves us open to an accidental nuclear war. Failure book starts with a scenario where a fictional: U S, president, gets that information about an incoming strike that he learns to late was bad information and he launches a retaliatory strike, which then becomes the real first strike to which the Russians respond with their retaliatory strike in a more or less ending human history. So I'm a correct me if I'm wrong bell, but it seems to me that no, while it would be progress of a sort to get to a second stripe policy, we still have a time bomb on our hands. We show due notwithstanding that, I'm strongly in favour of moving to this second stripe policy is lowered. It renews removed one of the probabilities one, the possibilities of action. I'm a blunder into, I done, remove all of them, but before we are talking about the possible path back from the brink here, maybe we should talk about a few other terrifying concern,
and also one of the most terrifying pieces of media. I've seen over the years was and animation that you, put out bill now, a few years ago on nuclear terrorism, which it doesnt really fit into this logic of proliferation and deterrence, and quite the same way, because any group that would do this is not. These don't tend to fall into the rational actor category and also it wouldn't listen maybe a nation state against which we could retaliate in response to an act of nuclear terrorism? But anyone who hasn't seen this video needs to see it I'll put a link to it on my website, But I will describe the scenario you concoct: foreign nuclear terrorists and just how destabilizing a very low tech attack on us could be a scenario we imagined
was a rogue group within a small countries nuclear programme. This is a row group that has access to the material, but is not under full control of the government and they build one nuclear bomb ship it both the United States, where their agent in the United States and that needed on Pennsylvania Avenue the level of catastrophe of just one less a hearing, he met. I bomb is more most people ever imagine you know. Besides a hundred thousand or so people gave away from this there is the terror and panic there is big in this case. Its decision Washington. The government is is decapitated and the consumer, and from it is a level of catastrophe we to imagine until you are going through the possibilities of a scenario like that
So we may that video to make dramatize at point of how catastrophic one small nuclear bomb could be And the danger nuclear terrorism, the Good NEWS, small Is it the one danger that we act Made headway on in the last number of years is the one and two we're terrorism. Obama bomb. I a programme I'm getting all the nuclear powers together to take steps to improve the safeguards unofficial material, and I would the trees, whatever the probability of a terrible getting nuclear bomb was ten years ago, is substantially reduce because of what he has done in that area. Southern. As one bit of good news, and all this is that we have taken steps taken actions to reduce the likelihood of nuclear terrorism that's the only the only real likely revengefully tear group being able to get a mom make it go if they could
get your hand on the fissile material if they could do that is easy. To imagine It might be able to build a crude but effective nuclear bomb. Yeah yeah it have you followed any progress, or lack thereof in our ability to detect nuclear materials coming into ports in shipping containers. I don't believe we could count on being able to detect that doesn't put another way. If I would the terra group, I would be pretty confident, I could find a way of getting the fish out of material in If I'm wrong by thinking that video you talk about, the prospect of a group said I've won bomb and insane. You know we have ten other bomb. In ten other cities, you know me Our demands are those go off to yeah in the video when they only had one bomb and name they brag about. They today threaten the use of other bombs and the terror effect. That threat is his greatest if they actually had them. Josie Pye panic, not
in Washington at all across the country. Is very great neck catastrophe, the resultant Azra great and you can look at the just changes that happened in our country after nine eleven, and you can just imagine and extrapolate how much greater that something like a nuclear terrorism. TAT could be a mean. There have been some experts who say that this could be the end of our constitution, as we know it that this would really challenge pretty much everything that we hold as a nation to poach. Something like this. There is an upside to this, though, which is that there are things We can do it and, as my grandfather brought up part of why we need to be having dialogues with countries like Russia, no matter. What is
happening in other realms in politics. We need to continue to have dialogue with all nuclear nations, Russia in particular because of how much this is an issue and that we cannot address the threat of nuclear terrorism as a single country. This is a global issue, and particularly nuclear powers need to be the most adamant to work on this because they have the materials they have access to the materials they need to make sure that they are securing these materials because it is quite intense endeavour to to process these materials. It is not simple. It's not something that can be done casually so generally, when you're talking about terrorist, getting their hands on fissile material. It's going to be coming from
more else, there now can be generating it themselves and if it's coming from somewhere, as coming from, you know, a refinery that that is established, that there are ways to track that, and that is in a boat came down to with the IRAN deal. Is that, despite all of whatever critics may say, there are ways to track these things, and then there are quite robust but we need to have a global cooperation to make sure that everyone is doing their part to secure these materials and to make sure that they are staying out of the hands of bad actors, but that requires dialogue which, unfortunately, in our current political environment, has pretty much gone away, particularly between the U S in Russia, and that does believe us more open to this sort of such. Asian. What was your views about are rescinding need the IRAN Nuclear Deal were stepping out of an hour.
It was a major step backwards. We were gaining degree of nuclear security to the IRAN, the treaty we have in the wrong but agree with whatever they're on and we just walked away from it. We walked away from you because of the agreement we had did not include restrictions on other things to do around was doing and that we didn't approve of- and I and why we are concerned about those but because any women did not do, we think me we should give away what it did do, we, what we did give away was validated constrained, a nuclear programme. That was, I think, a great a serious mistake. What about the argument that we should just unilaterally disarm or at least declare that. There is really no scenario under which we would use these weapons. These can
longer be viewed as weapons of war. Given the logic of deterrence, I think we could take significant steps in that direction, not all the steps needed, but some of them one in particular when the last year or so of the Obama presidency. The second term of the Obama presidency he with planning to reduced our nuclear stockpile unilaterally down to a thousand weapon that is at the number weapons deployed. We the treaty which limited to about one thousand six hundred- and you said we don't need one thousand six hundred and twelve other than going through the detail during the new treaty agreement with Russia, he just unilaterally said we're going to drop them to a thousand. That was a sensible thing to do whether or not so I should follow suit, which was Eliza possibility, but he got so much static on that day that he backed away
but so yes, it's a good idea, but politically in the United States and probably in Russia's well politically, is very difficult to do. If this is not matched by war, Russia's during that we don't have any agreement awaited the role that Russia would go down. Let's go down to a comparable mom, So a good idea, but politically very hard to do right. Why? I guess just in thinking about this, it's I mean there is something fatal mistake or even nihilistic about ones cast of thinking. When one can it goes through these scenarios. But if you just imagine the case of the worst case scenario, Russia decides to execute a full first strike against us and we are informed of it with a dozen minutes despair. What is the rationale for retaliating under those can
and why would any president or any administration wants to pointless Lee kill hundreds of millions of people on the other side simply because we're all about to die. You're, essentially doubling the likelihood that yeah a sure and a full nuclear winter and erase human history entirely. If we could think ourselves- to the point of realising that it wouldn't be tempting to use these weapons, even in the case where they seem to most
cry out for their use, LISA legitimacy of their use. What is the point of having them? What you're describing is water, certainly go to the mind of any president. If he saw an attack heading towards the United States is exactly, I think, what he would be thinking and he might very well decide not to launch the retaliatory deck, even though he was capable of doing so for the reasons you describe, but, of course, for deterrence to be effective, each leader the leader of each country has it takes a he's going going to do that, and it has to be a credible posture. So we cannot allow any doubt to creep into the outsides mind but
no matter how from he is before this happens, no matter how cute he is of what he will do before this happens. If this attack is actually taking place, he would turn to go to that. That line of thinking that by any human being, who was the president that they would have to consider the possibility of not responding, but I think the more fundamental point SAM is dead. All of our thinking on this has been no oriented around a possibility, which is exceedingly remote, which is at the other side going to launch see some political advantage to launching a major attack on us. I, your hundreds of nuclear weapons goin
map of the United States. What is the advantage of the other country does in that? One of the reasons that he would do that just it's just it's just seems to me to be a new irrational viewpoint and you had a whole deterrence, a whole force posture. All of our policies are based on that as being the threat where's in fat. The real threat is a threat of blundering Indra Nuclear WAR through an accident or to a political miscalculation. Thou certainly was who all doing the news, the cold war, and it's also to seal today, and because we have made progress, made the wrong assumption wanted. Thirty. Is we ve taken a whole set of actions in terms of policy in terms of forest structure. That designed to deal with this non threat, which in fact aggravate make worse the real threat we have, which is a threat of an accidental or blundering into a war. What incremental steps could we take that, would importantly,
change. The risk calculus, and I think one idea that I've heard you discuss is just removing our land based missiles. Maybe if you think that's a good idea, about that. And then then, let's talk about any other good ideas that are more. I see I shall be amateur by almost by definition of first strike weapon because they are in no, no like locations and again be taken out, and so the event we would use them as a first use weapon, not any response weapon, because it is, they would be taken out before he could respond, so that makes them makes it you may dangerous because their their vulnerability if the project is alerted Donna TAT coming on the United States would have to assume that attack is gonna, be the first way without attack is gonna, be directed against or icy, be aims and therefore he'd be faced with ye D.
Vision as to what the large those icy pm's before the attack impacts and if he decides, the large them. He risks losing all the icy becomes. If he decides to launch them, he was having act the daily certain nuclear war. If, in fact, the world thirty dollars, a false alarm, sounded the I see the Amazon you need for to our first strike weapon, which we don't plan to do And secondly, uniquely dangerous because of the possibility of leading to an active down a war. For that reason, think, whatever level of nuclear forces, we think we need for deters, ought to be. Put into or the submarine
is it an air forces, and we should let the icy be enforced phase out before it actually precipitate this accidental war and the the decision that my grandfather was talking about. If the president were to be alerted that there is an attack on their way. The timeframe for that decision is roughly on that. Minute value of five to ten minutes and mind. You know this could be in the middle of the night, woken up. The president coming out of bed saying There are missiles on the way you have five to ten minutes to decide whether you use are icy, be aims to launch retaliatory strike or we lose all of those. I see the aims and its really. It adds to this level of tension and this level of risk that you would insert into this situation. That really seems untenable,
to maintain that situation and that's an issue. That's not an issue with any of our other earlier. Other nuclear weapons are land, air and sea. Miss isles, since those are generally consent. In moving around different locations and wouldn't be able to be so susceptible to a first strike That danger is not academic. To me, many did you go to the Mets decades ago? Now is the under Secretary of Defense for research and engineering. I got a phone call in the middle of the night about three a dot m. This is one thousand nine hundred and seventy nine. I believe phone call. And when the voice on the other end identified himself as the watch officer to northward it of computers. Whose showing to underwrite you be aims on the way from the Soviet Union to the United States are quickly one on to explain that he is convinces computed one error
was calling me. I was its technical person defensive upon. I went in the chain of command at the time. He would call me to see if I could help him to go along with this computers, but before He called me for you knew it as false alarm. He did call the president the contours of the present actual security adviser, whose presence gay and predicting waited for you as before, waking the president and before you have to go to the programme were awakened him? He got to second call time. There was a vote arm, but he was in a minute or two awaken the present cook cargo. Who were then had less than ten minutes decision whether the large are icy becomes, in the middle of the night, no opportunity concern then you by nobody to get caught nowhere getting context on what was going on. No of assessing whether this is correct or not correct. He would have to make that decision. No, president, no person should have to make a decision like that
but as completely because of the vulnerability of our eyes, you be able to attack is enchanted. I hear these details, I'm just cast back onto my underline concern here, which is that I feel like we are ill equipped to have an appropriate psychological response to how insane this system is that we ve built, It has never now into the third generation of human beings who have built and maintained the system of self denial, relation, which you know in the limit, must approach. You know a price. Ability of one of malfunctioning right and they were just
ten year after year in this completely untenable circumstance, and yet the the insanity of it. The masochism of it, is hard to keep in focus. As much as I'm paying attention to nothing else in this conversation no I'm gonna go on with the rest of my day after we get off the line and other things will capture my attention and- before more compelling to me than this problem, which I can do very little about, and I can do more than most people about it. By having conversations with people like yourselves, there's a kind moral paralysis around this, because this unlike so many other threats to our survival. This is completely self imposed. Would have this conversation in the context of Corona virus, making its progress,
around the globe and terrifying everybody in that's a real problem that we didn't invent and that we are not sedulously maintaining and that its the solution of the all sorts of problems that should draw all of our. Ingenuity and and energy, and yet we have this other problem, you'd think it would take in either the real existence of Satan, or you know some diabolical super intelligence to mislead us into a place of bein. This idiotic, with how we ve prioritized, are our values were here, we're stuck here and we can't find a way out. I don't love you anything to say in response to that. I'm just gonna dumb, struck by the fact that this is so
an enormous problem- it is so unnecessary, and yet it is also difficult to keep in view. So I do have something to say about that. The first arrive. I agree with your assessment of how serious and already The problem is, but I do not agree with your just have very you can do about it. It's the view, the So how did they can't do anything about it? This car to send the pics we are in today? There are things you can do about it impacted this gas is one of those things, The reason we have the problem is and education problem people do not understand how dangerous it is. The plague of leaders do not understand our dangerous is, and therefore we continue, proceeding down the path with policies that allow this dangerous situation. They continue. There are none. Things we could do about concrete, specific things. Political actions with no one of us can take, but we can educate the public
you get a political leaders than they can take those changes which will greatly reduce simple changes. Should greatly reduce, for example, ending by the natural sole authority prohibiting first, whose prohibiting launch on warning all of those things, which are easy to do could make a big difference in the danger and you and I can take action scythe through education, can lead to the public the state of mind which could create an environment in which the politicians could take those actions. Part of why I got so invested in this when my grandfather started his foundation to start working to educating the public on these issues. I was so inspired because, as you said, I am part of these so called millennium generation, and, despite who my grandfather is, I really didn't understand. That these were issues that were relevant today, that these are modern issues, that these are something that I needed to
worry about, and when I started to grasp the scale and severity of what was really happening around me. I couldn't do anything but try and do something about it try to raise the alarm on it. That is why we started our podcasting that sort of the focus of what we're talking about, as is not just dive in two. What are the specific issues? Let's understand how we got here They are, but also in talking about what our concrete solutions that we can start working towards to reduce the danger, because I think one of the things that happens when we talk about nuclear weapons particular that comes up a lot in the dialogue about this issue. Is people tend to have this sort of all or nothing approach and its understandable? It's this really overwhelming concept, it's hard for us as
humans for our minds to grasp the level of devastation, the level of destructive power that nuclear weapons have and it's much easier for us to just shut them out, then it is to think about what it is that we have created here. But the truth is is that there are incremental things that we can do to start to. Look were the risk and that I actually very worthwhile in doing it is very worthwhile and taking the time to push for these changes and in fact it may not seem like it, but there have been things that have happened over the decades, since nuclear weapons were invented that have lowered the risks, and it's just a matter of need to bring the attention back to these issues so that we can continue to push for as things and one of the things right now. That is so concerning to me. Is that, because we do not have this general public education about this as an issue, there are things that are happening in the back
around that we are doubling down on nuclear weapons, because no one is standing up to say no, we do not want this. We do not accept this particularly, and unfortunately, this actually happened under the Obama administration He approved what is so called the nuclear modernization programme. He approved this as a way to get the new start deal past and unfortunately, as good as the new start deal is, and I am glad that he was able to get past the fact that he pushed through this nuclear modernization plan, I think, is going to be largely a negative. What, then, clear modernization plan is doing, is taking olive arm older nickel arsenal and updating them, but it's
it is more than that, because understandably it does make a lot of sense, and it is very smart to make sure that if we are going to have nuclear weapons that we make sure that those weapons are in strict operational shape that they are in the best operational ship there can make them to be. However, what is happening is that we are basically rebuilding a cold war arsenal without ever questioning whether we should continue to have any of these weapons when this is really the perfect time to say, let's look What we have and really question, maybe we could do better with less. Maybe we could reduce and get rid of our icy becomes just let them go into the trashy. Let them phase out Maybe we could, you know, lower the number of weapons, so we have overall and in fact, as part of this nuclear modernization plan. The Trump administration has tackled onto it anywhere now developing so called
lower yield tactical nuclear weapons, which are particularly concerning, because there is this thought in this fear, and I think it's a very founded fear that having a lower yields, nuclear weapon lowers the threshold for fur, our military, believing that they could use these weapons in a tactical and military sense, and, as many experts will say, there is no understanding of when you use any nuclear weapon. Whether it is a so called tactical nuclear weapon or a full warhead, whether that would not escalate to a full blown nuclear war and, of course, to give you context these tactical nuclear weapons are roughly you know, eight to ten killer tonnes, which is on a par with a Hiroshima style nuclear bombs. So these are still incredibly disastrous, devastating weapons, and this is the sort of thing that we are slipping into, because we do not have the public awareness and
political pressure to start changing things is really not too many people in our elected government. Right now who are fighting for these things? There are a few who are educated and are fighting, but they don't have enough allies to really make much happen. There is, in fact, actually legislation. There is a no first use legislation that has been put forth. There is also a limiting presidential sole authority. Legislation is congressmen. Ted Loo and Edward Marcie have put forth legislation that would remove presidential sole authority to launch nuclear weapons first without the approval of Congress. It does allow for our president to be the sole decider in the event of an attack to allow for that safety scenario, but it would remove
what is currently are: U S, policy, where the president and the President alone has the power and and complete authority to launch a nuclear weapon without any checks and balances, and those are things that we can do concrete today right now to lower these rest to start to work towards a world in which, eventually, maybe we don't have nuclear weapons anymore? Can you see the possibility of getting rescued by new technology here and what one idea that perhaps other people have had it and spoken about an unjust, not aware of it, but what a farce I bring war capabilities, they came in a suddenly decisive and we could just turn out the lights and zero out the financial system in a target country and in response to it
Add we decided ok, we're getting out of this nuclear game. You know we're. Never gonna launch these weapons, but threaten us with those weapons will turn your lights out. Is any rescue had come from the lateral move here that would take us out of the standard logic of deterrence. I I do not believe so. I think just the opposite, that the new directive Gee, for example, cyber aggravate, rather than mitigates the threat. The. Cyber could be used by a rogue nation or by a malignant third party two, a few of command and control, Russia's command and control, so he is, as I see it, it increases the possibility of an accidental nuclear launch, rather than enjoyed, to me. The Tiber is a problem is not a solution.
I just remind everyone, the human element here, because the current scenario is that this is for the president to decide and the clock in many of these cases is taking. Very quickly, and so you have you no card or being woken up in the middle of the night or almost woken up, and he would have had managed to decide what the launcher icy beams. Is it true bill that this could be apart full, but remember hearing that Reagan thought that are icy beams could be recalled after launch. Is that true has impressed I actually believe that I dont know if that's true, but it is certainly plausible theory, because you would think we would have their capability and in fact we do. Decided not to
had deliberately decided not to have their capability because they fear that somebody might some again deserves some malignant person after we launched, might send out a signal to her to added the activated the nuclear warheads. So for one, whether that is a good reason, not a good reason. We do not have that capability, so are once we launch They are gone now, its regional. For people to believe that we would have a recall capability, Oreo, G2, distraction capability and therefore quite what will the vague and actually believe doubtful well by monsieur someday. We would upset him straight on it if he did yeah, but obviously the current occupant of the oval office dozen really advertise his eagerness. A film in the black spots on his map of, what's going on and that's married to a claim to undo
and everything, and no matter what the topic is before him, and none of this inspires confidence, and I think even his supporters would imagine that he knows less about the details. Here then probably end occupant of the oval office before him right, and so you can imagine here, he's being given the prospect of using a tactical nuclear weapons, her low yield nuclear weapons and never even father into understand. That least, as you say, that these weapons are as big as what we dropped on Hiroshima, I have just using these on the battlefield in Eastern Europe in response to some provocation and logic, or lack thereof by which you arrest a slide into a full scale, nuclear war having used them even his supporters, I think can't have any
confidence that he has thought through any of this or upon being forced to think it through with the clock taking, will be especially good at it whose happy with the status quo here it seems hard to change the status quo whose making it hard to change. I have to say that I'm their share, concerns here, but I am also comes concern about other present to the years as well. Any time here president. That has a psychological problem, a dummy. The present whose in they have drinking. The present taking medication for whatever reasons present Kennedy, for example, taken heavy metal patient to alleviate the pain he suffered and We have no way of knowing that could have an impairment of his thinking. Is conceivable. We do know that and was in the heavy, making the last month, so his presidency and now
That would be a very severe substantial problem. So, while I'm particular concern about the problem described with present trompe. I will I do not want any presence to have the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons near here, although LISA pointed out. This was considered progress when we live did it from the hands of the military industrial complex, where we too from the military, and that was the right thing to do. Why does it have to be with just one civilian like energy? It we have We declare war according to our constitution and requires to Congress found, blazers declare war. Such a consequential act that should require they should be image from the way to doing it, and no single person you'd make that decision, and certainly launching a nuclear attack on another three as the text is an extreme right- version of declaring war,
but then how, with its apply to a retaliatory straw, because if we only have twelve or at the outside thirty minutes to get our act together the reason we have evolved, such a dangerous set up, This is because we have believed that the threat was a surprise attack. From? The Soviet Union originated now from Russia. Surprise attack against the United States, for all of our policies, including how we respond to that have been made on that theory, and given that then the idea of having a single approach, makes a decision and make it quickly. May some sense bud if you take away the necessity and make a decision in five minutes you say, we have an hour to make the decision or data makes a decision or a couple days to make. The decision then have
no single person make. That decision makes no sense at all, and I think I want to illustrate just how how scary are presidential sole authority system is that right now the way that the? U S, system, works, partly in that mode to respond to this threat of a potential both out of the blue President can order a launch of nuclear weapons using the the football That order would then go on to the National Military Command Centre, which would then go to you the missile ears and the bases and things there have been generals in recent meetings in questioning whether we should rescind this our in lieu of this threats that President Trump has made generals who have said for generals of struck come claiming that
we shouldn't worry because the military would not follow any unlawful order. In particular, they bring up. The notion of military law requires an ocean of proportionality and appropriateness. However, those orders do not necessarily go through strap com to get to our missile ears. They do go to strap combat, they go at the same time, an actual I have spoken with Bruce Blair, who
a nuclear security professor, as well as a founder of global zero and in his history, was himself a nuclear Missus clear several decades ago, and he talks about you know during his time in that position, how rigorously that they are trained to respond to these orders and roughly in the space of three to five minutes that they would get this orders. This is really a regimented system that, when it goes when the order is confirmed, it goes through. No one can counter mandate. It goes through from the president to the missile ears. In a couple of minutes, then, we would then be going to turn the keys to launch these nuclear weapons and in fact he said in all of the years that he was doing this. They were never train to stop.
They were never train to stop or ask as long as it was confirmed, they would turn the keys to launch the weapons. I think that the simple point to make here is when the general says they were not follow on your legal order. If the president, sends a command to launch that's a legal order red whatever the reasons behind it, a legal order so that I why what they do come on general say was really a non sequitur year. This also came up in my discussion with red CAP Lenin, and he pointed out that the fairly kafkaesque logic here, that any protocol, any launch command that already in the book right has been vetted. By military lawyers. So if you launch anything this off menu, it is, by definition, a legal order. Men are yours, adding further logic that, if it's coming from the president is
also by definition illegal or it's amazing. So let's talk by proliferation for a moment because it's obviously the greatest risk is the status quo of mutually assured destruction between Russia and the USA yes, but many other countries are acquiring or have acquired or seeking to acquire these weapons for reasons that are not surprising. The difference between you know if you're North Korea, with nukes and without nukes you're treated very differently by. I am the powers you provoking it is with Pakistan and so would be with IRAN. What are your thoughts on proliferation in theirs is easy to see, from their point of view, you. We have a system that I forget which country first use this phrase my been India, but only the system. It looks like nuclear up
tied the haves and the have nots with this technology. What do you think about the prospects of halting proliferate at this point and even rolling back, not very good, For the reasons you just given that any kind we can see the advantage to their security if having nuclear weapons, s not an illusory the advantages to real advantage. Greer when they got no God nuclear weapons fervour avi reason which are Dave. Believed you again security. What Sars is a real threat. This is true of the United States- are withdrawing the regime, so they go nuclear weapons to deter that threaten they successfully. I think accomplish admission so any, country can see that is as good as a good deal for reason here Go we created was called the nuclear. Non Proliferation treaty. So that
these countries are wanted to take advantage of. That would have some reason not to Nuclear nonproliferation treaty gets the Non nuclear power. To agree not to go nuclear returned for that the nuclear powers agree to work towards phasing out and decreasing their nuclear capability, so that was the two sided deal and that has been amazingly effective as the two years, but if you look at it today. You can see The nuclear powers are not maintaining their under the deal, in particular both Russia and the USA. Now beginning a major new built up, nuclear weapons, basically repeating when new and better technology, repeating the build up of the nuclear build up the cold war, so be Action of having nuclear weapons is very real. The novelist The treaty has managed to offset that
Action and given us is a very successful decks. For decades a number of relevant local operation, but I think that begins. Do fall away now, because of the action that nuclear power is not holding up there under the Non Proliferation treaty is our attention between now. Proliferation and fighting climate change? Now may given new generations of nuclear power seem to hold a lot of promise. For us. Is that part of, the unravelling of the prospects of non proliferation? Or is that not a variable way? Figures into the equation. It follows that a way of proliferating ample operating more or less secretly. Is your under the guise of nuclear power and the post Child for that is North Korea or Jack aid. What did the advertiser to commercial Nuclear Power programme which they use?
to build nuclear weapons. So that's The only case I know I've where that has happened and Nick probably could have been prevented. By better model. Owing to the nonproliferation treaty. I would but used as an argument against nuclear against the use of nuclear power, which has a considerable manage and told to another existential threat we face, which is a threat of global warming. So yes, their prior could be an avenue, a pathway nuclear weapons. That you have managed to keep. Nuclear Aspirations secret, but say I'm zone One example that I know of a war that has been done is up Stability that around might have a dog programmers well, but has been quite a lot of
turn the pressure to keep that from happening. There is also actually a flip side to that in which there is a potential perceived benefit, which, first of all, there is quite a difference in the type of facility that you would have as a nuclear power facility that you would need to have to enrich the type of material you would need for fissile material, and it's quite different from most facilities that you would build for. Nuclear power, so it is actually fairly easy to detect whether there might be illicit action happening there and that's often what is the focus of the surveillance IRAN and making sure that they were not working towards a bomb, but there is also the potential positive side which is actually if we were to try and work towards disarmament. Third needs to actually be a place to put all of this
it's all material. You cannot just abandon that. You actually need to put it somewhere. You need to recycle it. You need to blend it down and one of the best ways to do that. One of the best ways to get rid of them at is actually to blended down and put it into nuclear power facilities, and there is actually one of my favorites where's during my grandfather's tenure as Secretary of Defense, he helped to champion a programme The nun Luke our programme, which, fortunately, I think has not gotten enough attention throughout History- is a programme that was instituted in post. Cold war. To try and go in to former soviet countries is Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, suddenly became nuclear weapon states over
and did not have the money or the infrastructure or the political will. To maintain these things, and in fact Ukraine at the time became the third largest nuclear weapon state in the world when this house and so into the level of the numbers of weapons that we're talking about here? This is a huge endeavour, and you know that these are countries were incredibly financially unstable. This posed a huge security risk and they had none Luger programme was a programme institute in the? U S to work alongside these countries and the newly formed Russia to go in and secure these weapons to dismantle them and also work with the former military members there to re home them to retrain them so that they wouldn't be brought up by potential terrorist organizations who might be seeking these weapons are seeking in scientists are people who know how to work with these weapons and
to dismantle the submarines and and and all of the things that go into a new nuclear infrastructures is huge multi year. Endeavour to do this and part of what they did is the material that was dismantled and blended down from these former missiles was bought by the? U S by nuclear power plants, and roughly see that the math that Senator none explained to me, who was no namesake of this of this legislation, was that at the time roughly, I think it's ninety ninety five hundred about two thousand to some twenty percent of. U S. Electricity was coming from nuclear power and for those who know roughly a decade the amount of power that we were drawing from these former nuclear missiles was about fifty percent, so
Howard lights for ten percent of our lights and the entire. U S were powered by former soviet missiles for about a decade markets, symbolically, quite beautiful it would be nice to go further in that direction, so that the nun Luger effort there did that reach some kind of fulfilment or did it sort of Peter out for a lack of words, we succeeded in eliminating all the nuclear weapons in those third countries, Ukraine cause you don't evaluates all of them. That all happened during the term, I were set very defence before we were. Left office around dismantled. I recall, Post September eleventh, there was a an ongoing concern that Al Qaeda in that case could get no. Materials from we know one of the former soviet republics, because you had materials a word
Under padlock in certain cases- and you had the implosion of economies where he had some thousands or even tens of thousands of nuclear engineers and scientists, who had no jobs right. Her you driving taxicabs or working in some many away, and you have the prospect of this incredibly valuable material being able to be stolen and distributed to tee arrests, how sanguine nor you about how fully that's been contained. The nano got. Programmers do actually all three of those problems on the first one, then dismantling the nuclear weapons and fissile material that was hung over and completed during the time. I was here during our sector any offence on the second One in the arm, The nuclear ass cited the technology we made progress on the rapid, and I think that, promise. Greatly mitigated bid could never say was completely eliminated. What in
if you were the most tractable, most achievable concrete steps that we could take now differences bring us back to the command and control issue: where to get this out of one apes hands and least make it. A decision by some committee or consultation with Congress will required to do that. Could Congress unilaterally decided to diminish the president's power to launch a first strike or a retaliatory strike now. Yes, there is legislation already pending that the cars which have no chance of approval in the present environment? there is legislation pending to arm and writing and your sole authority and of first use those question as to how effective that legislation Could be against her presence, determined to use them anyway, but that would be a major step in that direction.
Certainly, we D Lou weakened by Legislation, no retired, the Icy be M, Zaka, be an action to We surely by Congress, did they decided they wanted to do that? We need also limit. Strategic missile defence at again in an action can be taken by Congress, was just linger. For a moment on that, what is your view of strategic missile defence and any possible improvements? They could, we had along those lines. Is it just destabilizing tv, the logic of deterrence, already think it could actually land as it some place of great, safety. The biggest problem against EU missile defence- aside from the fact that for the expensive, is it it doesn't. Work do think that it actually can't work, given that it is always gonna be easier to evade it. Then too bond to the evasions. Maybe if you pay add that they then that the reason that doesn't work a quite fundamental as do those words says
Go go into detail about the fact that the offence in this case, as in many other cases, do not have a certain. In this case, you often has a huge Adage of the defence, you know maybe attend to one advantage: Randy a missile defence. That is primarily because of the ability to put decoys outward which, what saturate the system. Now that is limited, The case of strategic metal fences and operate in the outer any outer space, not in the atmosphere, but that's why I'm system works or worse and outer space and therefore highly set out all his decoys and so fundamentally as it has very little chance of working, so that's one did, majesty racism and other strategic other disadvantages, the genocide fears that might work for they have incentives to find ways of of bolstering the of offence, which stimulate the office without without mitigating. It
Aside from the fact, of course, a lot of money right, yeah and also it adds to the sense that, if you imagine the view from the other side the view from our adversaries, if they believe, that we believe that we have a dome protecting us from in coming nuclear metals. They will judge the likelihood of are possible. First use is being higher because with You know where immune from retaliation, which then there's just provocative in its own right to be clear as no even the most pessimistic Alice in Russia today, couldn't I believe that our present deployed missile defence system poses a threat at all rising, be employed to produce as too small for other you're. Not they do fear That is the basis on which we would be, could rapidly build, and the EU could be a system which we might believe would defend our country and they base their power
sees season their programmes on them these are willing to follow through on that possibility. I did want to bring up one other efforts that we really haven't touched on. That is happening to try and work towards securing our future. A future may be free from nuclear danger just that. Actually, several years ago a tree was passed at the: U N, which the prohibition on nuclear weapons a tree was passed at the: U N, to ban nuclear weapons entirely and now this treaty has not been ratified yet because we're still waiting on several countries, we need a few more countries before it is fully ratified, but they are quite close to that. The organization
that was behind. That is, I can international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons. I can is a actually an organisation that is a number of organisations that come together to work towards this effort, and it was actually a legal push to try and make nuclear weapons illegal, and they ve actually been quite successful. They were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to pass this ban, and you have a lot of critics who come out and say that this is a pie in the sky effort that this was. There is no point to do this that this is impossible, but I spoke with Beatrice FIN who is the head of? I can credibly intelligent woman who is championing this issue and I think she may
a great point, which is they based this treaty of the treaty to ban landmines, which is actually been incredibly successful and is not to say that there are no more land mines or that we even expect that you know in five ten years There will be no more nuclear weapons, but you need to institute a goal. You need to set a standard for the world to start to work towards to put this global pressure and particularly what I think is really interesting. That came out of the U N Treaty was you had all of these non nuclear states who finally had a voice in this issue, because You really, as you said there is this sort of dividing line between the haves and the have nots in the Madrid many of the world does not have nuclear weapons. However, they are subject to the decision
of the nuclear weapon states and how they decide to manage these weapons. There really held hostage by this insanity and in How incredibly inappropriate is it that a few countries get to decide the fate of the world based on the power that they have decided to develop and also preventing other people developing it themselves and these non nuclear weapon states who are standing up and saying they do not accept this risk for how you they do not accept that this is how it should be done and they are trying to reclaim their power and say that they should have a voice and how this is handled and that we should really be Looking at. You know how the world wants to handle these nuclear weapons, and, while you know even the
People working on this treaty understand that just putting it into place doesn't mean that it'll happen tomorrow. They understand that this is a process, but it is about sending a message about setting an expectation to work towards this. Of course, all of the nuclear weapon states have refused to participate in this discussion, as you might expect, but I think You know this, isn't just you know an issue between Russia and the. U S is just an issue between India and Pakistan. Just it demonstrate the level of seriousness that you know that the devastation that could happen even from a limited exchange, nuclear weapons and unjust. So people understand is roughly about fifteen thousand nuclear weapons around the world to scattered throughout the nine nuclear weapon. States and use in Russia have about ninety percent of those and then the rest are scattered around, but
There have been studies done to show that even a limited exchange of nuclear weapons about one hundred Hiroshima size bombs, and this is often experts worry about indian packs and in particular being maybe if there were to be a exchange between nuclear weapon states. Those two countries may be the most likely for something like that. If there were to be an exchange of a hundred nuclear weapons between India and Pakistan. The devastate and not just the number, the millions of people who would die, but the global impact on our climate. You know the issue of nuclear winter, which, unfortunately, you know was people thought that it was debunks. You know in the eighties, but that actually not true, there's quite a lot of research that has come out with modern tools to demonstrate that this is actually a very rich
your fear and just one hundred nuclear weapons could cause a global climate catastrophe of a drop of roughly two to three degrees Fahrenheit in global temperature. And the fall out on our production of. Food and then mass starvation that would follow based on these studies, shows on the numbers of one hundred and twenty two billion people would be affected by the mass starvation. That would So this really is something that all countries should have a voice on, because it is something that affects everyone just clear that the issue with nuclear winter is you're talkin. All the ash and debris lifted into the atmosphere block even sunlight in the stratosphere, yeah yeah. So we're talking about crop failures once you have cloudy skies for years at a stretch, you would expect food
action to go away down by a guess. I want to close the door to any climb. Denier in trumpet stand, who thinks so? Why would that sounds like a sounds rather good, let with it we can mitigate the fiction of global warming by reducing global temperature via a few degrees. What's wrong with that see. I see you, you brought me to the dreadful second, the claim that owing to nuclear zero is a completely quixotic and impossible dream. What should seem impossible is the maintenance of the staff. It is quite so. We should recognise that we have the place where we started, where we acknowledged the perverse utility of Hiroshima. There are certain bounded circumstances in which, can make the case that having an using nuclear weapons actually works
we're not in that situation anymore. We are in a situation where the the prospect of is certainly you're talking about the? U S in Russia the prospect of war in a nuclear war? It no longer exists right You know you can annihilate your enemy, but you're in your enemy also gets to annihilate you and you ve, also by reference to what we just talked about you ve, probably annihilated yourself anyway, by ushering in a proper nuclear winter, and there may be some local cases where one nuclear power could straw, a non nuclear power or even another in a more primitive nuclear power. Without suffering that the logic of retaliation most of the world is not in that circumstance right now and in the circumstances we are in, is of a really badly calibrated doomsday machine poised to
detonate based on misinformation right. So it's anyone who thinks it's impossible to walk back from the brink hears isn't really Thinking about how untenable is to just maintain our perch right on the edge of it. If both been Incredibly generous with your time- and this has been an education- is there anything you want to say, bye, live conclusion here and bring us into them the engine yes, I do My first comment would be them The total elimination nuclear weapons is not going to happen soon, if ever, but the danger is so great that danger, drove civilization is so great. This is a goal. We should be working towards idea this matter and the idea that nuclear weapons or danger draw mankind is a fundamentally important idea and we should continue to keep that idea in front of the world, but secondly, Even before that happens, you're never happens there. Many
we can do to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons that danger primarily resize engine and accidental or a blundering using nuclear weapons to a technical error to a political calculation and a dozen or so very important political steps which we could take this year. Fear, which would greatly reduce the dangers. We should be focusing our attention on doing those some of those involving the political presidential, all thirty all prohibiting large on warning, prohibiting First You theatre dangers. We face, we don't have to face, we can simply get rid of them. We retire Oliver Icy PM's and still maintain a strong, very strong deterrence and We greatly reduce the danger was saved us. Hundreds of billions of dollars weaken them strategic missile defence for the same benefits we
have to wait for new treaties. We can take action to reduce our nuclear forces without the band of treaties and weaken, elect a president that is understand these issues and is committed to trying to deal with them. Those are all that can be done. In the relatively near term. There were really reduce dangers, while we over the longer period of time worked. The elimination of nuclear weapons and beyond making political noises to those ends are their organizations that people can support that are doing effective work in this area. It is what was the role her philanthropy here, yes, there's many such organisations, the nuclear threat initiative is one very important in this initiative in Washington DC. There were toward the illuminated than nuclear dangers and taking steps towards minimizing them. The vault of atomic. Scientists in Chicago is another.
Such organization? Many other world Afeared accounts councils and counselor formulations around the country work in this direction, so there things that can be done to it reduce play connected. One organization is focused particularly on this issue, which, which is called the ploughshares fund and other Now she s location, San Francisco and as the ploughshares fund has supported, other organisations that are working towards a using the danger nuclear weapons. So if a person says runs out What can I do this? I would say that, things like and that they can do. The first is to get yourself educated on this problem. Listening to this God get one way, is a better. It could also be a pathway to at other ways of getting educated, and the second thing I can do is to support the organ. Nations like ploughshares, unlike the bolt of islamic scientists, that working and ninth, to tell you that are working with, very cave, a boy professionals working.
On this problem full time. No, that's great straight. Do you have any closing thought yeah? I think you hit on it exactly, which is that we cannot afford nuclear weapons both in risk and eat financially. The nuclear modernization programme right now is projected to cost upwards of one point: seven trillion dollars trillion with a t, one point: seven trillion dollars: for this programme alone, just for nuclear weapons over the next twenty or thirty years, and the risks that it presents to us are untenable. We cannot afford to maintain the status quo, and I think it's really important when talking about this, it can be easy to get overwhelmed, is easy to feel defeated and hopeless.
But the really is hope here. Nuclear weapons, like you said these are man made weapons unlike climate change, which is involving a lot of different forces that are being influenced by humans. We created these weapons and we control these weapons, and when is a people, may problem means that there can be political solutions that what we need now is the political will to start pushing for those solutions and, like my grandfather said it is about hitting yourself an and educating others. So it's in a listening to this pod cast listening to our pod cost, sharing it with people talking with people making a ruckus in a really starting to get the dialogue started and partake killer with younger generations, who you know, did not grow up during the cold war and may have not realise that these risks
were there and that they were there at such a level as to say you know, if you don't accept the existential threat of climate change, you shouldn't, except the existential threat of nuclear weapons, the more so that you know we are doing this to ourselves and entered go out there and to push our government to push our politicians to start to make these changes to reduce the dangers and start to work towards a word. In which may be. We can start, have the conversations about working towards a global, zero, there is a world in which that can happen, but we to make these first steps to start the dialogue. Am I make one final comment we ve just Well- and you yourself have the importance of education in this field and like to give you an example which is three years ago. My granddaughter LISA knew nothing about this problem and she hopped on the project. It went through herself education
our and now I can certainly be a herd inaccurate in this field, so it is planned, some for people, if they get concern if they get interested to learn, of ballot, to become your way was, in the end, a nun. What actions eight and how to take them. They can. We do. Today, you so do not give up the first step educate yourself in the next step is to try to take political actions demand some of the things that your education pointing towards that goal. No turned on, and I swore thank you both for taking the time to educate me again our mind, people that LISA you're podcast is made. It may in fact be out the Mamma we release this or, if not very soon, there after in that is at the brink, and we will link to that and secretary pair of your book. The button is soon to be born that look forward to that, and also you have the website to William J Perry Project.
Org and I just as was say again and am now going to promote you back with your honorific secretary Perry. I just wanna thank you for decades of service on this front, of all the people who run are anywhere near the chain of command, so many of them advertise their unfitness for the job, and you who have never been one of those people. So I thank you for being that smart person in the room. Thank you, stand did you go to Turkey this morning. Thank you. So much
Transcript generated on 2020-07-23.