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"Understanding & Acting" conference

Rethinking Nuclear Choices: Security and Democracy

Lecture by Benoît Pelopidas, Sciences Po (Paris), founder of the "Nuclear Knowledges" program. Nuclear Knowledges is the first French university program of independent research on the nuclear phenomenon. Benoît, who is also an associate researcher at CISAC at Stanford University, has been awarded 4 international prizes. In October 2018, he publishes, with Frédéric Ramel, Guerres et conflits armés au XXIème siècle (Wars and Armed Conflicts in the 21st Century) at the Presses de Sciences Po.

In 2018, there are more than 14,000 nuclear weapons systems in the world; most of the nuclear-weapon states are starting to modernize their arsenals or even to engage in an arms race that will last for decades without the people and their elected representatives having had any real choice; a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty is open for signature and the situation with regard to Iran and North Korea remains critical.
In this context, this conference returns to the framing of nuclear choices in terms of security and democracy.
Is the nuclear danger reduced to that of proliferation? Has control over these weapons been perfect up to now and will it be perfect in the future? Should the institutions in charge of manufacturing the weapons and the associated experts define the possible choices? Instead of the triptych proliferation/control/nuclear democracy, this conference proposes the notion of global nuclear vulnerability, offers a means to assess the role of luck in the outcome of nuclear crises and examines the conditions for a democratic reappropriation of nuclear choices, based on new primary sources.

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