The Gravest Danger: Nuclear Weapons by Sidney D. Drell and James E. Goodby; New volume from Hoover Institution Press

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The mortal danger of nuclear weapons is unique in its terrifying potential for devastation on an unprecedented and unimaginable scale. In The Gravest Danger: Nuclear Weapons (Hoover Institution Press, 2003), Sidney D. Drell and James E. Goodby—each with more than twenty years experience in national security issues both in public and private capacities—review the main policy issues surrounding nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

They address the specific actions that the community of nations—with American leadership—should take to confront and turn back the nuclear danger that imperils humanity.

Some of the actions and policies presented include, for example, the practice of preventive or preemptive military action to destroy an impending nuclear strike. Although the authors accept that it is an entirely justifiable action, they caution that it is one that requires exquisite intelligence and public understanding.

They also describe a range of programs and policies designed to deny access to nuclear weapons to nations and sub-state entities. They show how these programs, to a degree, have worked and reveal what areas need to be strengthened. In addition, the authors look at emerging U.S-Russia relations, the use of various types of diplomacy, the value of a multilateral ballistic missile early warning system, and much more.

The book concludes with the authors' recommended policies and their application in specific cases, including those of China, North Korea, Iran, Israel, India, and Pakistan.

The so-called "nuclear genie," say the authors, cannot be put back in the bottle. The most urgent task of the United States is to successfully manage, contain, and reduce the grave danger of nuclear weapons—whether in the hands of adversaries or friendly states. This book aims to stimulate active public dialogue on this important subject.

Sidney D. Drell is a professor of theoretical physics emeritus at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center and a senior fellow at its Hoover Institution.

James E. Goodby has held several ambassadorial-rank positions, many of them concerning nuclear weapons issues. He coauthored this book while a diplomat-in-residence at Stanford's Institute for International Studies.

The Gravest Danger: Nuclear Weapons
by Sidney D. Drell and James E. Goodby
ISBN: 08179-4472-9 $15.00, paperback
134 pages October 2003

"To avoid nuclear war and to contain and gradually to diminish the potential for nuclear devastation: these are the most compelling imperatives of our time"