Richard

New York, NY

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Contributor Since 17 September 2019


Mentor Background

What is your area of expertise?

  • Nuclear non-proliferation
  • Policy
  • Other
  • Are you interested in mentoring high school or college students, or both?

  • High School Students
  • College Students
  • How did you become interested in this area?

    Initially, it came from my youth as an Army kid in Germany, learning about the terrible risks of war.  As a student, though, I became interested in proliferation more generally and transnational security threats.  Nuclear weapons were of interest from a historical perspective -- or so I thought -- as I learned more about the Cold War.  Then, I took a graduate school class that opened my eyes to the much larger interests surrounding and challenges of nuclear weapons.

    What was your career path to get here?

    I took a fellowship at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with NNSA while in graduate school at GWU.  I then joined NNSA's federal staff a year later, working on primarily organizational issues as well as Middle East nonproliferation.  I was fortunate to be able to be a bit player on the Libya nuclear weapons dismantlement team and, from there, to work on Iran.  I took this experience at DOE to the State Department in 2006 and was fortunate to be the senior Iran nuclear officer and Middle East Team Chief in ISN's Regional Affairs office for 5 years.  I then became Director for Iran at the NSC from 2011-2013.  Because of my experience -- and clearance -- at NSC, I was brought into the team that negotiated with Iran starting in Oman and then joined the P5+1 negotiations.

    Why should the public care?

    Nuclear weapons remain a serious challenge both from the direct threat to the United States and risk of conflict created by their spread (or alleged spread).  

     

    What is a current issue or trend that concerns you?

    Maximalist approaches in nuclear-related negotiations.  Nuclear nonproliferation and arms control are, in my view, about managing problems we cannot solve.  But, this drive for "solutions" to these problems often leads us to ignore real options to reduce the risks of these weapons and their proliferation in deference to superior, fantastical options.

     


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