Nuclear Weapons in the Post-Soviet World

Physical Science 307 in London Spring 2004

General Education F (3 hr lec, 1 hr sem)



Prof. David Hafemeister, Physics Dept

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(return to SLO, Nov. 7, 2003, 544-5096)

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Our goal is to become conversant on the technologies of mass destruction and their potential uses and constraints in today’s world. The London location will allow us a unique opportunity to tap the resources of embassy row, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, on-site visits, etc. The course will examine the technology and basic science of fission/fusion weapons, uranium/plutonium production, nuclear reactors, offensive and defensive missile systems, monitoring/verification, biological/chemical weapons. The role of these technologies will be examined within the historical context of the Cold War and past-proliferation events. The recent September 11 and Iraq-wars will be considered, along North Korea, Iran and terrorist threats. The global norm of arms control treaties with monitoring and verification technologies will be considered in search of a stable end-state.

TEXT: Deadly Arsenals by J. Cirincione, supplemented with dh readings.

SEMINAR/1-hr: If we can’t verbalize an issue, we don’t understand it. The seminar will be an excellent chance to develop debating and presentation skills. We begin with "Copenhagen" on the 1941 visit of Heisenberg to Bohr. The class will divide the last week for a big debate on a chosen topic. You will become an "expert" on a country of your choice to examine issues, make a presentation and write a paper.

David Hafemeister is a Professor (emeritus) of Physics at California Polytechnic State University. He spent a dozen years in Washington as Professional Staff Member, Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Governmental Affairs (1990—93 on arms control treaties at the end of the Cold War), Science Advisor to Senator John Glenn (1975—77), Special Assistant to Under Secretary of State Benson and Deputy-Under Secretary Nye (1977—78), Visiting Scientist in the State Department’s Office of Nuclear Proliferation Policy (1979), the Office of Strategic Nuclear Policy (1987) and Study Director at the National Academy of Sciences (2000—02). He also held appointments at Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, and the Lawrence-Berkeley, Argonne and Los Alamos national laboratories. He was Chair of the APS Forum on Physics and Society (1985—6) and the APS Panel on Public Affairs (1996—7).