Ambassador Thomas Graham is one of the world’s foremost experts on nuclear proliferation.

From 1970 to 1997, as a senior American diplomat, he helped negotiate every major international arms control agreement to which the United States was a party. That includes the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the permanent extension of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, as well as treaties banning chemical and biological weapons.

From 1994 to 1997, after a stint as acting director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Graham served as President Bill Clinton’s special representative for arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament, a post that carried ambassadorial rank.

More recently he has begun working in the nuclear power industry, serving as executive chairman of the board of directors of Lightbridge Corp., a Virginia firm that is developing a new type of reactor fuel.

Now 82, Graham periodically commutes from his home in Bethesda, Maryland, to Corvallis, where he has been team-teaching an interdisciplinary class called Nuclear Arms Control and Non-Proliferation at Oregon State University.

He sat down over coffee in December with Gazette-Times reporter Bennett Hall for an hourlong conversation about nuclear arms control, Cold War brinksmanship and the potential of nuclear energy to address what Graham sees as the most pressing threat facing humanity today: the global warming crisis.

The full interview appears below, with only minimal editing for clarity.

G-T: Ambassador, you’ve been involved in negotiating the world’s most important arms control agreements. Can you briefly sketch out the framework of arms control as it exists today, and especially nuclear arms control?

Graham: Well, initially it was to try to bring an end to the nuclear arms race, which was – to call it madness may be an overstatement, but it was up in that direction. The U.S. built 72,000 nuclear weapons, and the Russians, the Soviets, built 55,000, any one of which could destroy a large city. I don’t think there are 72,000 cities in the world.

Of course a lot of them were “tactical,” but the difference between tactical nuclear weapons and strategic nuclear weapons is largely a function of size. Tactical nuclear weapons would maybe be only three or four times the size of Hiroshima, whereas strategic nuclear weapons might be 100, 200, maybe even 1,000 times greater than Hiroshima. Tactical weapons in theory would be used against invading forces, and particularly the Warsaw Pact sweeping into Western Europe, whereas strategic weapons would be part of a general nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which – whatever it would do to those two countries – would certainly destroy the rest of the world and probably those two countries in their entirety.

And so it didn’t really make sense to do that, but we did. The primary, initial focus of arms control was to put a stop to that, to end the nuclear arms race, and that’s what the early treaties did.

And then later, the objective was to bring down the levels of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Chemical and biological weapons were eliminated by the two treaties governing them. And then we also had the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which was about conventional weapons. It was the treaty that ended the Cold War, so it had a relationship, obviously, to nuclear weapons because they were so much a part of the Cold War, the thermonuclear confrontation being one of the essential elements of the Cold War.

G-T: So what are the most important treaties governing international arms control today?

Graham: Well, the number one is the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which is still the centerpiece of international security, and likely will be so for a long while. And I guess the second one would be the New START Treaty, which replaced the START Treaty, which only lasted for 15 years. And I think the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is very important, but it’s not in force yet because primarily of the reluctance of the U.S. Senate to ratify it – prevent U.S. ratification, I should say. Once the U.S. ratifies, I think all the other required states for entering into force that haven’t ratified yet will go ahead and ratify except maybe North Korea, and we’ll find a way to deal with that. But that’s a very important treaty.

G-T: And when was that treaty negotiated?

Graham: From ’94 to ’96.

G-T: And the U.S. still has not ratified it?

Graham: The U.S. was the first signer. President Clinton signed it personally in New York, at the U.N. But we’ve never ratified it. There’s 162 countries that have ratified it, and different parties, and the remaining ones are largely waiting on us. There’s 46 countries I think that have to ratify for it to come into force. They’re all countries that had nuclear facilities on their territory in 1996, when the treaty was completed, and they were all members of the conference on disarmament in Geneva; that was the formula we came up with. There’s 38 that have ratified. Of the remaining eight, all but North Korea and Iran depend on the U.S. and pretty much are waiting more or less for the U.S. And Iran I think would unquestionably follow suit. How could they claim they have a peaceful program if they were one of two countries in the world that won’t sign the test ban, won’t ratify the test ban? So I think it would come down to North Korea, and who knows what they would do?

G-T: Many of us tend to think of nuclear weapons as relics of the Cold War, but they’re still with us. Who are the world’s nuclear powers today, and what is the extent of their arsenals?

Graham: Well, the U.S. has just under 5,000 nuclear weapons. The Soviets, I’m just guessing here, I think they’re down in the range of 7,000. They were at 10 (thousand), but I think they’ve come down a bit from that, to about 7 (thousand). No one else is in the thousands level. The Chinese have maybe 450, the French maybe 350, the U.K. maybe 100. Israel somewhere between 80 and 200, depending on who you believe. Pakistan, about 110 to 120. India about the same, 110 to 120. North Korea, 10 to 15.

G-T: Since the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 at the end of World War II, no nuclear weapons have been detonated except for test purposes. But how many close calls have there been, and what were the most serious?

Graham: You mean between us and the Soviet Union or Russia?

G-T: Well, primarily. But perhaps there have been others?

Graham: Well, there was the Cuban Missile Crisis. There was the 1979 crisis where the U.S. had a computer failure which said that hundreds, indeed thousands of Soviet missiles were on the way, and the U.S. came within about 10 minutes of launching nuclear weapons in retaliation for something that didn’t exist. And there were two other computer failures the next year, in 1980, but I don’t think the reaction was quite as strong on their part.

There was an incident in the Soviet Union in 1982, I believe, where early warning systems indicated to an early warning station not far from Moscow that (there had been) a U.S. missile launch from our land-based missile fields in the Middle West, North Dakota in particular. So that would normally call for a response by the Soviet Union, but the Soviet missileer in charge of the early warning station took it on his own to tell the higher-level staff that it was a false alarm. He had no evidence of that but he just thought that was the case because the system they had was new and was not fully tested. And he took a brief look and he saw no other system having been activated. But his look was very brief. And initially it was just one missile launched, and then as he was on the phone to the office of the chief of staff there were four more launches, supposedly. But he stuck to the story: false alarm.

And then in 1996, after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. and Norway launched a sounding rocket from Norway to do observations of the aurora borealis. We had notified 31 countries of this planned experiment two weeks or more in advance, including Russia, but somehow that information never got to their early warning stations. And a station near Murmansk saw this launch. And one of the theories of the Cold War, one of the theories of nuclear doctrine, is that one of the possible ways that there would be a first strike is that first one missile is launched to decapitate the leadership and then a major launch happens so there’s less chance that all the missiles won’t get to their targets. And the Murmansk station read this sounding rocket as the launch of a Trident 2 strategic submarine-launched missile aimed at Moscow and therefore likely a decapitating strike. This resulted in an emergency conference call among (Soviet President Boris) Yeltsin, the chief of the general staff and the minister of defense, perhaps the chief of strategic rocket forces as well. The Russian nuclear submarines that were at sea were warned that a launch order was imminent, within 10 minutes, and the nuclear codes were brought to Yeltsin in his office, the so-called football. And for the only time in the nuclear era, they were activated. He came within two minutes of launching the nuclear weapons of Russia against the United States, but then said something like he didn’t think that this was the way a nuclear war would start. And about three minutes later, four minutes later, a couple minutes past the 10-minute deadline, the Murmansk station saw the (supposed) nuclear missile fall into the sea. So everyone was told to stand down, and later Russia learned that this had been a scientific experiment.

I told you the details of that one just because it’s the most recent. And it’s important to remember that once nuclear missiles are launched, you can’t recall them, you can’t destroy them in flight. Once launched, they can’t be stopped. And secondly, throughout the Cold War, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union said that they had a “launch under attack” posture – that is, they wouldn’t launch their missiles until warheads from the other side actually had landed – and therefore the system between the two parties was very stable because you wouldn’t have a false launch. You’d know it wasn’t false because the bombs were going off. But that was untrue. Both of them had a “launch on warning” policy, which made the chance of a mistaken launch quite real.

And the U.S. used to do exercises all during the Cold War, once a week, involving the commander of the Strategic Air Command, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the national security adviser. And they started this exercise by the commander of SAC calling in saying there were so many missiles on the way from the Soviet Union, and then there would be a conference. To get the missiles off before the other side’s missiles came, you only have about 20 minutes. It’s a 30-minute flight time, and the radars don’t really see them till after the first eight or 10 minutes. So that’s a 10-minute discussion. Then the president was given 10 minutes to make up his mind what to do. Wherever the president was found – fishing in the Columbia River or playing golf at the Bethesda Country Club or sitting in his library in the White House or sleeping – he was brought to the phone with 10 minutes to go. And during this exercise, every single time, every week for the 45 years of the Cold War, the president always said “Launch.” Always.

G-T: Really?

Graham: Um-hmm. So you can assume that if (National Security Adviser Zbgniew) Brzezinski had awakened President Carter in 1979, as he came within two minutes of doing, from these reports from SAC that first there were hundreds of Soviet nuclear missiles on the way and then it was thousands. And then he called back again – this was all in 10 minutes – saying other systems are not responding, hold on. And then he called back one more time, they said this is a computer error. And so Brzezinski didn’t wake President Carter. But if he had, 45 years of the Cold War would tell you what the response would have been.

G-T: How in the world did we ever survive that?

Graham: That’s a good question. I’m not sure. We did have a couple of Irish presidents. I was going to say “luck of the Irish,” but not many Soviet rulers were Irish.

G-T: How serious is the threat of nuclear terrorism today?

Graham: It’s a serious threat. It’s a preventable threat. With the exception of a report right after 9/11, there’s never been a report that such an incident was imminent. There was such a report at the time of 9/11 that there was a 10-kiloton weapon in New York City. (The CIA had information that Al Qaeda had smuggled such a bomb into the city, although that report was never confirmed and no bomb was found.) But it certainly is conceivable, particularly if there should be an incident in Pakistan, where the Taliban was able to get one or more of the Pakistani weapons, or if fissile material had been taken out of Russia and put in the hands of a couple of engineers who could fashion a crude bomb from that.

When I was in South Africa, the South Africans explained that they’d built six 20-kiloton uranium gun-type weapons, which are very simple to design, crude nuclear weapons, never having more than 150 people working on it, spending $25 million, that almost any country could do this if it could get the material, and there are some subnational groups as well that could do that. (South Africa dismantled its nuclear weapons in the late 1980s and early 1990s, joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state in 1991.) So it’s plausible, but it hasn’t happened yet and there’s been no report of it being a near-miss or being about to happen. So I guess I wouldn’t put it at the top of the worries, but it’s certainly something that’s important and we need to keep in mind as being a realistic possibility. And if it ever happened, of course, the consequences would be so grave that it’s worth spending considerable effort making sure it never happens.

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

G-T: Last time we talked, you mentioned some incidents in Pakistan where the Taliban may have been on the verge of obtaining a Pakistani weapon.

Graham: There are reports – you can find them online – that at one nuclear weapons storage facility in Pakistan, closer to the western border, there were in 2007 two assaults by Taliban forces and one in 2008 on that facility, obviously trying to get one or more weapons. Apparently none of the assaults succeeded. So there were those three attacks. I don’t know if there have been others, but you can find that online.

G-T: So in today’s world, now that the Cold War is over, where do you see the greatest potential danger of nuclear conflict?

Graham: Ukraine.

G-T: Why there?

Graham: Well, because Russia and NATO are involved. If cool heads don’t prevail, the Russians might move tactical nuclear weapons into Ukraine to bolster their position. President Putin has openly said that countries shouldn’t push Russia around because we have big nuclear weapons. He said that in a speech not long after Russia took over Crimea. And of course NATO has tactical nuclear weapons as well.

I don’t see much of a risk anywhere else right now. North Korea is developing an ICBM which one day might be able to deliver one or two nuclear weapons to cities in the United States, but that’s far off.

The other place is South Asia. There’s a huge risk that Pakistan and India might end up in a nuclear war. They have twice come close, in the Kargil War of 1999 and then the “Twin Peaks” incident in Kashmir in 2001-02. Both of those conflicts involved Kashmir and they both involved the infiltration by Pakistan of irregular forces like the Taliban – it wasn’t the Taliban, but the same group that attacked Bombay, they have a large presence in Kashmir. It’s those forces that have threatened.

G-T: What about the Middle East, with a heavily armed Israel and other countries in the region that may be seeking nuclear weapons?

Graham: Well, Israel is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, although it may be that Saudi Arabia might be able to get some from Pakistan, as the financier of their program. And I suppose Iran has the capability to develop nuclear weapons, but they’re blocked from doing so by the agreement. So I don’t see a nuclear war risk so much in the Middle East right now. There’s always crazy people. You can’t ever be completely sure about this. I suppose in theory there was some kind of potential (for a nuclear conflict) between Israel and the Iranian nuclear program, but I think that’s gone away, and I was never sure how real that truly was.

G-T: What steps are currently being taken to prevent nuclear proliferation, end nuclear testing and reduce or eliminate existing nuclear stockpiles?

Graham: I don’t think very much. There’s the president’s effort to conduct … I think it’s four nuclear security summits, of which the main objective is to reduce the presence of HEU (highly enriched uranium) in research reactors, to make sure no research reactor has more than 20 percent fuel. There’s still some that use HEU. There’s the ongoing effort to bring the CTBT, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, into fruition. I can’t think of anything else right now.

G-T: So the effort to disarm the world’s nuclear powers, has it stalled?

Graham: Yes, because of our relationship with Russia. That’s always been what it’s been based on because we have the two largest arsenals. I might, as an aside, say that I’m writing a book for OSU Press about what possibly might be an alternate route through a nuclear-weapon-free zone movement whereby Latin America, the South Pacific, Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Asia have all been made legally off-limits to nuclear weapons, pursuant to various treaties negotiated. Maybe that could be expanded.

G-T: And are there any efforts underway along those lines?

Graham: Other than my book, no. And there may never be. But it’s better to at least try to imagine alternatives than to sit with the current situation, where progress in the foreseeable future doesn’t look very possible.

G-T: One key component of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was the promise of assistance in developing peaceful nuclear energy programs for countries that pledged not to develop nuclear weapons. How have the world’s nuclear powers lived up to that promise?

Graham: I think very well. All five of the nuclear weapons states under the NPT have taken their responsibilities seriously about cooperating with other countries on peaceful nuclear power programs and other peaceful uses of nuclear energy. There exists a nuclear suppliers’ group of some 45 countries that meet regularly to control nuclear trade in sensitive equipment to make sure that the trade in nuclear materials and equipment is fully consistent with the peaceful use of nuclear energy. That is an essential part of the NPT bargain. When the Nonproliferation Treaty was being negotiated, a number of European states, primarily, indicated that they would not join it unless the right to the full use of the nuclear fuel cycle was made available to all parties, particularly those that were giving up nuclear weapons. One country, Belgium, said that no self-respecting state was going to live with a double discrimination, where only a small group of countries could have weapons and only a small group of countries can use peaceful nuclear power. Willy Brandt, who was then the German foreign minister, made a speech in the Bundestad to the effect that Germany would never join this emerging nonproliferation treaty unless its right to nuclear technology was guaranteed and that the economic success of Germany depended on it. A number of other countries – Switzerland, Spain and so forth – made similar statements during the negotiations. So, in one way of looking at it, the three parts of the NPT are nonproliferation throughout most of the world, peaceful cooperation in the use of nuclear energy by all, and eventual disarmament by the NPT nuclear weapons states.

G-T: And we’re still a long way from that last part.

Graham: We’re still a long way from that last part. And that’s why a test ban is so important, because if there was one part of the disarmament program that was important to those countries giving up nuclear weapons, it was a permanent agreement to forever stop nuclear testing in all environments. It was recognized and still is recognized that going to zero in nuclear weapons was not something that can happen anytime soon, but at least, say many of the non-nuclear-weapons states, the nuclear weapons states can stop testing. Well, they have stopped testing, but it’s only under an informal moratorium, which is just national policy. The U.S. was the first to introduce that, and now most of the world, pretty much all of the world, has gone along with that, except North Korea. But the U.S. Senate is blocking entry into force, U.S. ratification and ultimately entry into force, of the legally binding Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

There is another thing that can be done, a partial measure. I don’t know if it ever will be, but it could be. The U.N. Security Council, under Chapter 7, has the power to make international law, and all the countries that have signed and ratified the U.N. charter have agreed that the Security Council has that power. And so the Security Council could determine that any nuclear weapon test anywhere by anybody at any time would be a threat to international peace and security – as it clearly would be, as a test program by Russia, a test program by China, would be. Therefore it could decide that no country could do this, and that would have the force of international law. That’s not the same as the treaty, but it would put the prohibition in place on a legally binding basis. Or looked at another way, it would legalize – make legal – the nuclear testing moratorium that already exists. That’s a halfway measure. There’s been some talk about it; someday it might happen, or it may not. But it’s long been seen – in fact, since the earliest of days, 1967 and ’68 – the stopping of nuclear weapons testing has always been seen by the non-nuclear weapons states as the principal quid pro quo for them forever giving up the most powerful weapon ever created. It’s their political cover for being non-nuclear weapons states. But the nuclear weapons states have not delivered on that, primarily because the United States is not able to do so.

G-T: As executive chairman of Lightbridge Corp., you are now active in the nuclear power industry yourself. What does the company do, and why has a former nuclear arms limitation negotiator such as yourself gone into this field?

Graham: Well, to start with, Lightbridge is a nonproliferation company, and as chairman I am a person with nonproliferation experience that gives some credence to our claim that we are a nonproliferation company. We have developed two variations of a new type of nuclear power fuel which addresses, one way or another, most of the concerns that some people have with nuclear power. Nuclear power is actually very, very safe when you consider that there were no deaths at Fukushima; that, according to the United Nations, there were only 60-some-odd deaths at Chernobyl, as horrible as that was; and there were no deaths at Three Mile Island. Whereas every year in the United States it has been said that up to 13,000 people die as a result of coal-fired power plants, either because of mine accidents or because of other accidents related to the job or, most prominently, early death because of polluted air. So, statistically, nuclear power is already probably the safest form of producing energy – and I mean the safest of all, statistically, including some of the renewables as well. However, people have concerns about nuclear power accidents.

These two variants of the same new type of nuclear fuel share the following attributes in common: They’re both based on a metallic frame, which has certain important characteristics. The fuels operate at a very low heat level compared to conventional fuel. To have a Fukushima-type accident requires a heat level of about 850 degrees centigrade. Conventional fuel operates at 1,200-plus centigrade. Our fuel operates at 425 degrees centigrade. So, as you can see, it’s physically impossible to have a Fukushima with our fuel. Secondly, meltdown – where part of the fuel assembly melts and falls to the bottom of the reactor vessel, maybe burns a hole in it and releases radiation – is highly unlikely. With the conventional ceramic fuel frames for conventional fuel, if just the top of the fuel rod is exposed to the air because of an accident, that top may melt and drop to the bottom of the reactor vessel and cause the problem I just mentioned. But using the metallic frame with special designs, a helix-type design, the water level has to get down almost to the bottom of the rod before there would be a meltdown because the coolness of the water radiates throughout the metal frame as long as there’s some reasonable amount of water still covering part of the fuel assembly. A metallic frame dissipates residual heat after the reactor is shut down quite rapidly. Just put a heated plate and a heated knife into cold water and see which one cools off the fastest – it will be the knife. And also these two variants of this new fuel type, they have much reduced waste. There’s an 80 to 90 percent reduction in radiotoxicity of the spent fuel after 200 years, which means that it has to get the special protection of a Yucca Mountain-type facility for only about 200 years, whereas it’s more like close to 100,000 years for conventional fuel, which is a much more uncertain thing. Our fuel assemblies return to background radiation level, like in this room, in less than 1,000 years – 700 to 900 years – which is imaginable, as opposed to something that’s so far off it’s not imaginable.

Now, the way they differ is that one of the fuel assemblies is 60 percent thorium and 40 percent uranium, and the other one is all uranium. The first one makes no weapon-usable material in the spent fuel, so it’s impossible to make weapons from it. Any country could have it as a fuel and would not be able to make weapons from it. The all-uranium fuel does make plutonium in its spent fuel – about 40 percent of what conventional fuel does – but that plutonium is so wrapped up in other isotopes that it’s very difficult to separate and use in a weapon. It would be easier and cheaper to build a plutonium-production reactor and make plutonium than to try to separate the spent fuel from the uranium fuel. And the all-uranium fuel, depending on whether it’s put into an existing reactor at the time of relicensing, when the turbine can be made a little larger, or if it’s a new build, a just-completed reactor or a reactor under construction, produces between 10-17 to 30-40 percent more power per fuel load, so you need to build far fewer reactors. So that’s essentially what it does.

G-T: Have these fuel assemblies been approved for use by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission?

Graham: It’s been through research and development for many years, around 18 years of research and development. Now we’re at the stage where we have to demonstrate it and have it analyzed, and then the NRC will then grant a license on the basis of that information. So fuel samples are being made by the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in Chalk River in Canada. Those will be transported to a reactor in Norway, which will demonstrate the fuel – that it does what we say it does – for three years. And then those fuel samples will be taken to Sweden for post-irradiation examination, and that information will then be given to the NRC, and they will base a license on that examination. Four major utilities have written to the NRC asking that our fuel be licensed as soon as possible. They are the Southern Co., Dominion Generation, Duke Power and Exelon, representing about half of the nuclear reactors in the United States. And there will be reactors in Europe that will want to use the fuel as well, once it is licensed by the NRC. And we hope to have the fuel into reactors on a commercial basis in late 2020 or early 2021. In my opinion, it will transform the nuclear power industry.

G-T: So, Tom, what do you say to Greenpeace, Physicians for Social Responsibility and other critics of nuclear power who argue this technology is inherently unsafe, that there is no viable solution to the waste problem and that the world should focus on other alternative energy solutions such as wind and solar power?

Graham: What do I say to them? I’ll start in reverse. With respect to solar and wind power, they are very important and they should be developed as much as possible. But neither one of them has ever powered a city for a year or more without a brownout; in fact, they’ve never powered a city at all for any lengthy period of time. Nuclear power has been doing that for 40-some-odd years. We have to have reliable, baseload, non-emitting energy to fight climate change. Nuclear power has to be a very important part of the mix; otherwise, we will fail and climate change will do us in. Inherently unsafe? I think it’s demonstrable that nuclear power is safer than any other form of energy production in terms of the casualties involved, and it’s been made far, far safer than it ever was before, even though it was quite safe before. The new reactors are based on different principles, they’re far safer, and we have the fuel that I just described. It’s just not true.

Certainly, if our fuel is used, the waste problem will be easy to solve. Even existing fuel can be put into the WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) facility in New Mexico, which will consume it and eliminate it forever, but there hasn’t been much of an effort to use that facility, although it could be used to store a lot of waste. But with our fuel, the waste problem is largely – not 100 percent, but largely – solved in that there is a great reduction in radiotoxicity. You know, Sweden’s been able to solve the waste problem without any difficulty at all. It can be solved. It’s politics that are preventing it from being solved. There’s nothing wrong with Yucca Mountain. That aside, with our fuel we don’t have to have a long-range, 100,000-year-plus facility. Now, I might add that my company has a prominent environmentalist on our board – we only have a five-person board – and NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council) has long been a supporter of ours. Even Greenpeace is shifting its attitude towards nuclear power, properly recognizing the enormous threat to the future of civilization that is presented by climate change.

G-T: You have helped protect the planet from the risk of nuclear war, and you’re trying now to protect the planet from the risk of global warming. What is your fondest hope for the future?

Graham: Let me first say that some friends of mine and I have developed a document which tells the story of global warming as it really is and what really needs to be done, the immense effort it’s going to take to combat it successfully. It’s going to take cooperation among nations on an unprecedented level. It’s going to take hundreds and hundreds of trillions of dollars over the next 50 years. Goldman Sachs and several other banks put out a statement recently saying it will take $90 trillion in the first 15 years. That document I think will appear in the press over the next couple of days. It is signed by Hans Blix, the famous Swedish arms control expert; Dr. KunMo Chung, twice energy minister of Korea; Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author; myself; Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize winner for the landmine campaign in 1997; Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former lieutenant governor of Maryland, who’s prominent in the financial field now; Jayantha Dhanapala, former undersecretary general of the United Nations for disarmament and currently president of Pugwash International; Sergio Duarte, former U.N. high representative for disarmament affairs and former chairman of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency; and Karen Hallberg, professor of physics and principal researcher for the Argentine National Research Council. Hopefully, it will appear in a day or two. (The document, titled “Urgent Action Required on Climate Change,” was published in the Gazette-Times on Dec. 10, as the international climate talks in Paris were winding down. To read it, click here: http://www.gazettetimes.com/albany/news/peril-and-promise/article_006a2d60-2bc4-5134-b3e6-fb0b2616574e.html.)

My fondest hope is that gradually, over time, nuclear weapons can be eliminated and that a safe and secure deployment of non-carbon-producing energy sources can be accomplished at a necessary level to successfully protect world civilization from climate change. This likely will involve nuclear power as the baseload energy source, supplemented in great amounts by wind and solar power. Eliminate nuclear weapons and, through non-emitting sources of energy, save the world from climate change – those are my twin hopes. I want to leave a wonderful world such as we have enjoyed to my grandchildren, who are very young right now – one free from nuclear weapons and one safe from the ravages of climate change.

G-T: You don’t think small, do you?

Graham: (Laughs) People have accused me of that. You’re not the first.

Be the first to know - Sign up for News Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Reporter Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.


Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald