Working Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons

Max-von-Laue-Vortrag auf der Jahrestagung der DPG 2010 in Bonn

Tu, 16.03.2010 20:00  –   Tu, 16.03.2010 21:00
Sidney Drell, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhlems-Universität Bonn
Hauptgebäude, Regina-Pacis-Weg 3, 53113 Bonn
Contact person:
Götz Neuneck,
External Link:


During the Cold War, the United States and the former Soviet Union relied on nuclear deterrence to navigate successfully through those perilous years. In today’s world, with the accelerating spread of nuclear material, know-how, and weapons, we are facing an increasing danger that nuclear weapons, the deadliest weapons ever invented, may be acquired by ruthless national leaders or suicidal terrorists. Under these circumstances, relying on thousands of nuclear weapons for deterrence is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective. What will it take to rekindle the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons that President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev brought to their remarkable summit at Reykjavik in 1986? Can a world-wide consensus be forged on a series of practical steps to escape the nuclear deterrence trap?
A world without nuclear weapons is a goal worth pursuing in itself. Beyond that, and most importantly, endeavoring to achieve that goal will also invigorate efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But the road will not be an easy one. Real and serious obstacles lie ahead. Nations that have privileged positions in the international system by virtue of being nuclear weapons states will be reluctant to give up that status, or even to accept parity in nuclear weapons as stockpiles are reduced to low levels. Nations that fear the conventionally-armed military might of other nations will be reluctant to give up the option of a nuclear “equalizer.” Factors such as these, rather than technical problems, are the main reasons why reaching zero will be so difficult. And these are problems that can be overcome. No law of nature stands in the way.

max-von-laue-vortraege-Max-von-Laue lecture Drell 2010 with figures.pdf