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Simulations, Testing, and Reliability in the Second Nuclear Age

  • Room 24-213 24 Cambridge, MA 02142 (map)

Hugh Gusterson

George Mason University

Based on interviews with cabinet officers, Congressional aides and senior officials from the nuclear weapons complex, this talk reconstructs the decision taken in the 1990s to end nuclear weapons testing. Under pressure in the international and domestic political arenas after the end of the cold war, the Clinton Administration overruled protests from the nuclear weapons labs that continued testing was needed to assure weapons reliability and safety. However, the nuclear weapons complex was given a budget increase to replace testing with a set of simulation technologies, including a new generation of lasers and supercomputers. But the question remains: can we be sure the nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable? How do we know?