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International Institute for Nuclear Explosions
May 15,1996 to April 8, 2004
Nuclear explosions have potential practical and scientiﬁc uses. It is super-
stition to ban them, but making sure they don’t contribute to the possibility of
nuclear war is necessary.
Our idea is that nuclear explosions should be studied and when appropri-
ate carried out mainly by an international institute according to the following
to energy generation, probably preclude monopoly.
Up to now, non-proliferation has been promoted by secrecy as well as by
diplomacy. Secrecy is now almost irrelevant to non-proliferation, because the
essential knowledge required for weapons is widespread. Diplomacy, inspection
and perhaps some coercion have to be relied upon.
There is a signiﬁcant development gap between nuclear explosions and actual
weapons that can be delivered by airplanes or missiles.
What scientiﬁc and practical uses of nuclear explosions may develop is hard
to predict. While both the U.S. and the Soviet Union did some work in this
direction, the work was always subordinated to the development of weapons.
Here are some possibilities.
possible manned missions to the outer planets in reasonable times.
didn’t get past the design stage.
The extremely intense lasers that nuclear explosions make possible may
have interesting scientiﬁc and practical applications.
clear energy continue to prove elusive.
New Yorker cartoon showed two dinosaurs. One said, “All I’m saying is
now is the time to develop the technology to deﬂect an asteroid.” As the
dinosaur said, now is the time to develop the technology.
Maybe the establishment of such an institute is politically impossible at
present, because of the great opposition to nuclear explosions for any purpose.
However, as memories of the Cold War with its fears of nuclear war recede, a new
generation (and maybe older generations) will look at the question more calmly.
If this institute is created, it may take some time for worthwhile experiments to
be proposed and agreed upon.
Very likely, there will remain some national programs involving nuclear ex-
It will augur ill for the future of humanity if a branch of science and its
associated technology are abandoned permanently for symbolic reasons.
It is unfortunate that the test ban treaty signed in 1996 bans all nuclear
I wouldn’t object if it
explosions. Fortunately, the U.S. Senate rejected it.
merely banned bomb tests.
The treaty does not make nuclear war less likely. It merely creates an un-
stable situation—favoring the kind of society that can keep secret (or at least
uncertain) that it is carrying out secret weapons projects.