Matt Korda is a Research Associate for the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, where he co-authors the Nuclear Notebook with Hans Kristensen. Previously, he worked for the Arms Control, Disarmament, and WMD Non-Proliferation Centre at NATO HQ in Brussels. Matt is also the co-director of Foreign Policy Generation––a group of young people working to develop a progressive foreign policy for the next generation. He received his MA in International Peace & Security from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, where he subsequently worked as a Research Assistant on nuclear deterrence and strategic stability. He also completed an internship with the Verification, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) in London, where he focused on nuclear security and safeguards. Matt’s research interests and recent publications focus on nuclear deterrence and disarmament, progressive foreign policy, and the nexus between nuclear weapons, climate change, and injustice. Matt’s work has been widely published and quoted in The Washington Post, Forbes, CBC, Politico, The Nation, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Defense One, Inkstick, 38 North, Arms Control Wonk, and others. Matt is the Ploughshares Fund 2020 Olum Fellow and an Associate Member of the Canadian Pugwash Group. He is also a 2018 alumnus of IGCC’s Public Policy and Nuclear Threats Boot Camp, a 2019 alumnus of the Wilson Center’s Nuclear History Boot Camp, and a 2019 CSIS Nuclear Scholar.
What is your area of expertise?
Are you interested in mentoring high school or college students, or both?
How did you become interested in this area?
During my undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, I focused mostly on genocide and war crimes. Somehow, I stumbled upon a copy of John Hersey's "Hiroshima" and was both horrified and mesmerized by the various survivor accounts of the US atomic bombings in 1945. Realizing that the threat of nuclear war never truly went away, I decided to learn everything I could about unique topic which touches so many of my other interests (Cold War history, national myths, war crimes, environmental and social justice, corruption, etc).
What was your career path to get here?
Being from Canada (thankfully, a country that doesn't have nuclear weapons!), it wasn't easy to find a way into the US nuclear field. I received a scholarship that helped me complete my MA abroad, at King's College London, which had nuclear-specific modules and classes. After receiving my MA I stayed at KCL to work as a Research Assistant on nuclear history and deterrence policy. After that, I worked for six months at the Arms Control, Disarmament, and WMD Non-Proliferation Centre at NATO HQ in Brussels, before moving to DC to start my current job at the Federation of American Scientists.
Why should the public care?
The public should care about nuclear weapons because we would all collectively be affected by their use. People don't often realize the extent to which nuclear weapons have dominated our military posture, our culture, and our spending priorities.
What is a current issue or trend that concerns you?
I am extremely concerned by the size of the nuclear budget relative to more crucial human security priorities, as well as the influence of corporations and lobbyists on nuclear decision-making. You'd be surprised to learn how much health care and public transit you can fund in exchange for a relatively small portion of the current nuclear budget. So instead of these crucial social priorities, why are we spending so much money on nukes––when it doesn't really make sense to do so from a strategic or military perspective? I'd suggest that the cozy financial relationship between weapons companies and Congress plays a huge role in this.
This is a serious problem, because military policy should not be a business decision. If military policy is about protecting citizens, then decisions to build and deploy these weapons should provide a collective benefit to the nation, not a specific benefit to a particular corporation. This is how you end up with the bloated nuclear budget that we currently have today.
Would you be willing to speak to a classroom about your work?Yes
What themes or topics would you be interested in lecturing or discussing with a class?
- Current debates in nuclear deterrence, non-proliferation, and disarmament policy.
- Humanitarian and environmental effects of nuclear weapons.
- Nuclear spending priorities and the nuclear-military-industrial complex.
- Progressive nuclear policy.
- Anything else nuclear-related!