Published March 19, 2022

Foreign affairs and policy specialist Michael Krepon (Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace), discusses his definitive guide to the history of nuclear arms control, including how the practice was built from scratch, how it was torn down, and how it can be rebuilt. In conversation with Todd Sechser.


TODD SECHSER: Good afternoon and welcome. My name is Todd Sechser. I’m a professor of politics and public policy at the University of Virginia and senior fellow at the Miller Center, also at UVA. Before we get started, I have just a couple of reminders that I’ve been asked to give you. First of all, please silence your cell phones. Second of all, please do keep your masks on. The speakers in our event have shown negative test results today, but we haven’t asked the same of you. So, to keep everyone safe, please do keep your masks on throughout the event. Thirdly, please also consider supporting the Virginia Festival of the Book. Although the Festival is free of charge to attend, it is not free of charge to hold and organize. So please consider supporting it with a donation by visiting Lastly, throughout the discussion I ask that you think of your own questions for our guest speaker today. We’ll have some time at the end for questions and answers, so please do think about what you would like to ask our featured author today. 

Today we’re here to talk about nuclear weapons and the danger of nuclear conflict, a topic that really could not be more important or more timely right now. Nuclear weapons have not been used in combat since 1945. I think that’s a point that’s really worth repeating. It has been almost seventy-seven years since the country has used nuclear weapons in battle. 

But for the first time since maybe the 1980s, maybe even the 1960s, today we are confronting a real possibility that Vladimir Putin might decide to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine. A terrifying possibility. This is the kind of wild-eyed scenario that you used to be able to read about only in the back pages of obscure RAND reports, but it’s here in real life, right now, today. 

So the book that we’re talking about today arrives at exactly the right time. The book is called Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace, and it’s about the decades-long effort to reduce global nuclear dangers. And we’re fortunate to have the author Michael Krepon here with us to talk about it today. 

Michael is the cofounder and distinguished senior fellow at The Stimson Center. He cofounded The Stimson Center in 1989 after working in the executive branch and on Capitol Hill. He received the Carnegie Endowment Award for Lifetime Achievement in Nongovernmental Work to Reduce Nuclear Dangers in 2015. For people like me, that’s like being voted into the hall of fame. He’s the author of twenty-three books about nuclear stability, arms control, and international security. 

Michael, your book reminds me a lot of like Michael Jordan’s sixth NBA championship. An incredible feat, no question, but you were in the hall of fame already, and you didn’t need this book in order to do that. But it really is, I think, the definitive book on the history of arms control. So congratulations on a really tremendous achievement. 

Let me start our discussion by playing devil’s advocate. And I’ll start with a question I think that’s on probably everybody’s mind, which is the conflict in Ukraine and the possibility that it might turn into a nuclear conflict. We have in this case a seemingly unhinged autocrat in Vladimir Putin who’s invaded his neighbor. He has visions of returning to a period where the borders of his country were much more expansive than they are today.  He doesn’t seem to respect international norms. Would we be in a worse place today to stand up to somebody like this if we had had more arms control and fewer nuclear weapons over the past ten or twenty years? What do you think? 

MICHAEL KREPON: Well, thanks for that kind introduction, Todd. A lot of us support things—we who care about this work in here—is to teach the history. And that’s one of the things that Todd does at UVA, and he does it quite well. 

Ukraine is what happens when arms control is dismembered. Ukraine is so far the greatest victim of this dismemberment, this teardown of an amazing architectural structure that was built over decades to try to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. There are a couple of the architects in the room with us today who helped build this structure. Thank you very much. 

The structure was built on a foundation in which states did not carry out aggressive war. You respected the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of your neighbors. This whole edifice of arms control could not have been built otherwise. 

The edifice succeeded. When the Cold War ended, all of the key elements of nuclear peace were in hand. We had them. We had achieved them through hard diplomatic labor. We had this agreement to respect one’s neighbors. We had treaties that reduced these nuclear arsenals. 

Interruption for a pop quiz. How many nuclear weapons were manufactured since 1945? Take a wild guess. A hundred and twenty-five thousand. A hundred and twenty-five thousand. Not one of them has been used in warfare. So far. 

And that happened because of this thing that we call arms control, as well as the thing called deterrence. But deterrence is dangerous. It’s supposed to be dangerous. Otherwise, I’m not going to deter you. I need to threaten you. So deterrence as a standalone doesn’t prevent mushroom clouds. It points us in the direction of mushroom clouds. It’s arms control that does it. And arms control is built on the foundation of respect for territorial integrity. Reassurance. Deterrence needs reassurance to succeed. Draw downs of these arsenals. No battlefield use. That’s the norm that we live by. And it’s been surprisingly successful, and we have to accept that in this crisis and in the crises to come. 

No threatening military operations. That’s part of the foundation of arms control. Structuring and restructuring deterrent forces so that they are less threatening. All of this was done. Decades of hard labor. Now we take it for granted. It’s the most important unacknowledged success of the Cold War. Arms control. No use. And we’ve thrown it away, lots of it. 

We’ve thrown treaties aside as inconvenient. We prefer freedom of action. We’ve thrown norms aside that were crucial to the nuclear peace. And it’s easy to blame Vladimir Putin for this. He’s miscreant number one. Ain’t nobody near him. But the United States also contributed to the teardown. We did too. President George W. Bush and President Donald Trump felt that freedom of action was more important than these negotiated agreements, and here we are. 

I think Ukraine is the consequence of the teardown, and we’re in a tough spot right now. 

TODD SECHSER: Let’s begin just a little too, what we’re talking about when you talk about arms control. I’ve had you come my classes to teach my students about just what arms control means. And they’re always surprised by the range of treaties and agreements that we call arms control. Can you talk just a little bit about what all of that means. What kinds of treaties are there? What do they cover? What in your mind falls under the umbrella of arms control? 

MICHAEL KREPON: Well, we naturally think about treaties when we think about arms control. We have treaties that first curtailed and then stopped nuclear testing. Those were hugely important treaties. We needed them at the outset because testing in the atmosphere was a public health hazard. Radioactive traces in mothers’ milk and children’s teeth and cancer rates. So, we had to stop nuclear testing in the atmosphere. That was the first important treaty. And then we stopped nuclear testing everywhere else. That was in 1996. So, a decades-long project. 

We have treaties that control—that was really hard—strategic forces and then reduced them by 85 percent. As the Cold War was ending. We had treaties governing the disposition of conventional forces, and that was one of the treaties early on that Vladimir Putin tossed aside as being terribly inconvenient. It was a treaty that would have prevented, if honored, what he’s doing today in Ukraine. 

But arms control is more than just treaties. It’s about channels of communication. When this all started, it actually started in the Eisenhower administration. The very first conversations between US and Soviet negotiators. That was so strange, so hard to do, and it became routinized. Yeah, we’re going to talk. We have a guy in the audience who talked to the Soviets about a treaty to ban intermediate-range nuclear forces. You know, the kind of missiles that are now threatening Ukraine. That was another treaty that went by the wayside. 

So, channels of communication are crucial. Hot lines that could be used in a crisis. Norms. Norms are a big part of arms control. And some of these norms—the most important one of all, you do not use nuclear weapons on a battlefield. That norm isn’t enshrined in a treaty that nuclear-armed states have signed, and yet they have honored it so far. It’s a crucial norm. I really want to come back to this norm because the rebuild requires this norm and a few other things as well. 

So, arms control is treaties, multilateral as well as bilateral, norms, communication channels, all of which add up to reassurance. We’ve got to have reassurance as long as we have nuclear weapons because the weapons are so damn dangerous. Arms control provides the reassurance. 

TODD SECHSER: That’s a great overview of just how broad this idea of arms control really is. You have bilateral treaties. You have global treaties. Test restrictions, restrictions on building weapons. This book is such a comprehensive history of the development of all those tools. It’s a wonderful read. What do you consider as the most important pillars of that edifice, as you call it? That large structure of arms control. If you could identify one or two treaties that are really the hallmarks, the keys. We’ve already seen some treaties, as you say, being discarded. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the INF treaty. Important because it was the first treaty between the United States and Soviet Union that actually, instead of just capping, actually reduced the size of the two sides’ nuclear arsenals. What are the key pillars of this regime? 

MICHAEL KREPON: Well, there’s a treaty that hasn’t entered into force, but it’s being respected by all major powers and regional powers. It’s crucial. It’s the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. So, it’s the one that I said was negotiated in 1996. This was during the Bill Clinton administration. This is a crucial pillar because every test of a nuclear weapon is like a declaration of utility. It’s a declaration of military utility. It’s look how strong I am; don’t mess with me. Did you catch the reverberation of that underground test? Your seismometers certainly picked it up. And you picked up the preparations for the test too, so check that test out. 

We don’t test anything. It’s crucial that we extend this. Our nuclear future depends on extending the norm of no testing, and even more important, the norm of no use. Nuclear weapons have not been used in warfare since 1945. Now that is amazing. Nobody predicted that at the onset of the nuclear age. People were expecting nuclear explosions as late as 1983 in the Cold War. There was a big crisis. It was so big and so dangerous because people didn’t even realize it was happening. That’s another story. 

But we’re facing another test. The size of this Ukraine crisis is big as crises go. We’ve had a few. We’ve got to get through this without tests, without use, and I think we can. But you take nothing for granted. Treaties and norms are the foundations of the old architecture of arms control, and we lived by these pillars. Some of them are down. The pillar of respecting the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of  your neighbor—that pillar is down with Ukraine. And that’s why Putin has to lose this war, and he will lose this war. The question is will he lose it without using nuclear weapons. He’s going to lose it, and we have a chance to rebuild this pillar. And we’ve got to do some more building as well. The new building is going to look a little different than the old building. 

TODD SECHSER: Let’s imagine that Vladimir Putin does decide to use nuclear weapons. I never promised to ask easy questions. Thinking about everything that you’ve just said about restoring norms, rebuilding the pillars that prevent the use of nuclear weapons, if you’re advising President Biden, how do you advise him to respond if this does happen? 

MICHAEL KREPON: This is so conjectural, Todd. It depends or would depend on where, how, what’s the yield, what’s the damage. There are a lot of ifs, ands, or buts. 

But I want to go out on a limb here and say he won’t. I don’t think he will. I don’t think he’s crazy. He’s calculating. He’s cunning. When he threatens to use, he threatens with a purpose. And we’re not buying it.  He wants us to jump, and we’re not answering by asking how high. He’s threatening, and we are aiding militarily, economically, and through humanitarian measures a country and a people that are defending their homeland. And we’re not going to change our approach. I think our approach is working. The Russian army is being dismembered on the ground, and we’re part of that, but we’re doing it in a way that doesn’t involve a direct confrontation with Moscow. I think that’s exactly right. 

So, if—because I don’t think he will—Putin does create a mushroom cloud on Ukrainian territory, what? Does not involve NATO territory. I think we ought to do exactly what we’re doing now that will lead him to lose his war terribly, without retaliation in kind. 

Now that is a position that you may not agree with me. A lot of people won’t agree with me. If you’re a deterrence strategist by trade, you wouldn’t agree with me. Because nuclear weapons don’t deter unless you retaliate in kind. But I am thinking about how we get out of this war, and we are in a position to rebuild. And I think this is possible. 

We rebuild by rejecting aggressive war. We rebuild by defeating aggressive war. We rebuild by clarifying that nuclear weapons are not useful on battlefields and that nuclear threats are not useful. If we can make it through this crisis—it’s a terrible crisis—and the costs incurred by Ukrainians. My last name used to be Kreponinski, by the way. My father’s family is from Kyiv. So, I have some skin in this game. He shortened the name so that we could make our way in the new world as Americanized US citizens. 

But I think if we hold steady we can get through this, and we can get through it in ways that we can rebuild. 

TODD SECHSER: Maybe a related question. One of the things I love about this book is it’s not just—in fact maybe not even primarily—a case for arms control. It’s a history. It’s a wonderfully woven story about the fits and starts that took place in the slow and gradual building of this arms control edifice. And one of the lessons I took from it is that sometimes it required frightening events during the Cold War. Crises in Berlin in the fifties and sixties. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The Pershing II Crisis in Europe in the 1980s. It sometimes required these events, to put it bluntly, to scare people into understanding the value of arms control. To provide a political impetus for support for arms control. 

It’s been a while since we’ve seen new arms control treaties. Are leaders just doomed to have to relive and relearn these lessons? And is the Ukraine crisis one of these lessons that might create political pressure for the return to arms control? 

MICHAEL KREPON: I deeply hope that’s the case. I think it’s possible, but a bunch of things have to happen for this to occur. I don’t think we can do business with Vladimir Putin. It was possible to do business with him after the Cold War ended, believe it or not. He was willing to do business with us. He expressed some concerns that we disregarded decades ago. We expanded NATO. Just a little bit at first and then a lot. And we kept getting closer and closer to Russia’s borders. And then one of the really bad decisions that George W. Bush made was to push NATO to agree in principle for Ukraine and Georgia to also become members. 

So, we start pushing in 2007, and in 2008 that’s when Putin started blatantly violating this Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that had been negotiated in the Reagan administration between Reagan and Gorbachev. Just waved it aside. 

And around 2007, 2008, by my reckoning, Putin said I just can’t play by the rules that the West is imposing on me. I’m going to make my own rules, and they’re going to suit me fine. And given what he’s done in Ukraine, I think he not only has to lose, but he also has to go. And that’s none of my business. It’s not the US government’s business. It’s not NATO’s business. It has to be the Russian—it’s Russia’s business whether or not they want to stay with a leader that has so ruined their army and their international standing. Even if he doesn’t use nuclear weapons or chemical weapons. 

I think the rebuild has to be post-Putin, but the Ukraine crisis can really give us some propulsion. We kind of forgot about nuclear weapons for decades, which is a testament to the success of this thing that we call arms control. We’d forgotten about nuclear weapons until now. We remember them now. And if we remind our readers that reducing nuclear danger is pretty important to us, and it doesn’t come at the expense of protecting our environment. Reducing nuclear danger does protect our environment. So we can rebuild, but it’s up to us to help. 

TODD SECHSER: Let me pivot to a different country, which is China. Russia is a hard problem obviously, but at the very least the United States has an ongoing arms control treaty, the New START Treaty, with Russia, a long history of arms control with the Soviet Union and Russia. China is a different story. We don’t have any nuclear arms control agreements or arms limitation agreements with China. Some observers are speculating that China will maybe triple the size of its nuclear arsenal in the next ten years or so. They may have by 2030 more than a thousand nuclear weapons. Still fewer than the United States, but that’s a lot. 

What would it take for China to be persuaded that arms control is important? Will it take a nuclear crisis with China like the ones that the US and the Soviet Union had during the early years of the Cold War to persuade Chinese leaders that arms control is valuable? What do you think? 

TODD SECHSER: It could take a crisis over Taiwan. It could. So as Todd said, we’re looking at China having maybe a thousand nuclear weapons. Just to give a point of reference, the United States has around six thousand. Fewer that are deployed on missiles and submarines and ready to be loaded on bombers, but we’ve got a good number of those too. 

So, China has been pretty clear that they’re not going to do arms control the old-fashioned way. The old-fashioned way—the old architecture was we do a treaty, and the treaties were built around numbers. And China considers itself and has reason to consider itself as being in the top tier of states in this world, and they’re not going to agree to a treaty where they’re on the second rung of the numbers situation. So, that really makes it hard. Triangular treaties are hard anyway, especially when two out of the three parties collude with each other. 

So, I think part of the new architecture involves some of the old treaties, but I don’t see any time soon a new treaty involving China and the United States and Russia. 

So, how do we bring China in? I think there are ways to do this. First of all, it’s very important to remember that China doesn’t like to be the odd one out among the permanent five members of the UN Security Council. It hates to be the only voice of negativity. It likes company. But if you can convince others to do what you think is the right thing to do and there’s only China hesitating, you might just be able to get China on board. 

This is how China joined this treaty we’ve been talking about that bans nuclear testing. The one that hasn’t entered force but that is being respected. China tested only a fraction of the number of times that the United States and the Soviet Union tested. There’ve been about two thousand of these tests. During the worst stages of the Cold War, we and the Soviets averaged one test every two weeks. Imagine that. That was in the late fifties. 

So, China has tested forty or some times and was way behind, and yet they signed up to this treaty. They didn’t want to be the odd man out. 

So, as we approach—part of this new architecture of arms control is norm based. You don’t test, even though this treaty hasn’t been put into force. You do not use nuclear weapons in warfare. You don’t even threaten to use nuclear weapons in warfare. You avoid dangerous military practices. All of this was part of the old architecture, and we can carry this over. I think that’s the way to bring China in. I also think that’s the way to bring Pakistan and India in. And they’re standing on the sidelines too. 

So, a norm-based approach as being part of the rebuild I think is crucial. 

TODD SECHSER: When you were writing this book—you’ve had a long career in arms control. You covered the entire span in this book of the history of arms control. As I said, it’s extraordinarily comprehensive. Did anything surprise you, in doing your research, reading about the history of the negotiation of these treaties? Anything you didn’t expect or that you didn’t know? 

MICHAEL KREPON: I was surprised by how much I’d forgotten. Some of you may share that trait. I was surprised by things that I had remembered but remembered wrongly. There were a lot of those surprises. And I reminded myself of something that I had purposefully forgotten. So I was an anti-war activist during the Vietnam War. I did teach-ins. I went door to door for Eugene McCarthy. There’s a name I bet some of you will remember. Oh, I so disliked Lyndon Baines Johnson. And in doing the research for this book, I obviously know about the voting rights legislation and all the good things he did at home. But man I still held a grudge. And then I read about the origins of the Nonproliferation Treaty, which we haven’t talked about. Amazing treaty. That pillar still exists. It’s where 190 countries have signed up to a world without nuclear weapons. They have committed to abstinence. That treaty was Lyndon Baines Johnson’s doing. And I reminded myself of that. 

And there’s another foundational treaty—we haven’t talked about that too—the Outer Space Treaty, which helps us—and it’s been under threat—but it helps us to keep the heavens free of warfare. That was Lyndon Baines Johnson too. So, I gained a newfound appreciation—surprising appreciation—for Lyndon Baines Johnson. 

TODD SECHSER: Let me ask one more question, and then I’d like to involve the audience in asking you about the book. Raise your hand, all of you who were born after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union. Let’s say 1992. How many were born after 1992? One hand. Literally one hand. I find this in my classes as well, teaching at the University of Virginia. Students aren’t particularly aware of the history of arms control, feel largely ambivalent about it, don’t have any particular commitment to views one way or the other about whether it’s important for deterrence and for nuclear stability. But the last chapter of your book is called “Revival.” Reviving, reinvigorating arms control. To do that seems to require also reinvigorating attention and passion in the next generation of people who will advocate for arms control, go door to door, join public service, work at the State Department and the Defense Department in government, making these things happen. How do you do that? What’s your view on how to reinvigorate interest in arms control, not just among those who study nuclear weapons like you and me, but among the broader public. 

MICHAEL KREPON: Well, that’s why your work, Todd, is so crucial—and other people like you. And thank you. 

TODD SECHSER: Fortunately, I have good books to assign my students. 

MICHAEL KREPON: That was my job. People whose job is to be in classrooms is crucial, just crucial. It is important for younger folks to remember or learn nuclear history. We’ve lived it—most of us in this audience have lived it. And we need transmission, and we need transmission at a time when we’re just completely overloaded. It’s hard to do. But I’m counting on it, and I’m counting on it in classrooms like yours. 

One thing I’m struck—I’m retired, but I do keep an oar in. And in my field (the arms control field) there’s so much young talent. It stuns me. People are joining—we’re rebuilding right now. The ranks are being rebuilt. And thank God there are also foundations in this world that support this work because that’s what’s sustained me. That’s what’s enabled me to write that book. The foundation matters greatly in this field. And the ranks are thinning, and we’re going to need help there too. 

But I’m convinced—I’m absolutely convinced—that we can succeed. And what convinces me is that it’s way too dangerous if we don’t. It’s way too dangerous. And the dangers will become very, very obvious, if  they’re not already obvious with Ukraine. So we can succeed, just like previous generations succeeded. We succeed day by day. Every day. Every day without a nuclear test, every day without a mushroom cloud is a good day that extends these norms, makes it harder for anybody to break them. They can still be broken, but there are a lot of people out there, including young people, who are working in nongovernmental organizations, who are working in the executive branch, who are working on Capitol Hill, who are committed to success. We’ve got that going for us, and it really counts. 

TODD SECHSER: Well, thank you. I’d like to ask questions of the audience. We have just a little over ten minutes for questions. So, I’ll call on you, and someone will bring a microphone around to you. I only have two rules about Q&A. One is please keep your questions brief. A little context is okay, but please be brief. And secondly, all questions end in a question mark. And what do you think about what I just said does not count as a question. Maybe that’s three rules. Okay, let’s go right here in front of me. Thank you. Please wait for the microphone so our viewers online can hear you also. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you for that inspirational talk. It was amazing. My question is you said that you don’t think Vladimir Putin is crazy, but do you think that he could become drunk on power and put into a corner where he feels he doesn’t have any other choice? 

MICHAEL KREPON: Yeah, that is a big question right now because he’s losing. And the longer his troops stay in Ukraine, the more he will lose. And I suspect this is dawning on him, and he’s not the kind of guy who loses gracefully. So, this is a tough corner for sure. 

There are a lot of smart people, including within the Biden administration, which I think is handling this crisis very well. There are a lot of smart people seized on the problem of an exit strategy to end this carnage. It’s likely to be one that leaves everybody unhappy, and it’s likely to be one that is unfair, but it’s crucial that nuclear weapons not be used in this war. I think it can be done. 

TODD SECHSER: Next question right up front here. Second row here. Thank you. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER: In terms of the wildcards, countries that want to join the nuclear club, are there any checks and balances outside of nuclear arms treaties? For instance, Iran and North Korea. 

TODD SECHSER: Yes. The biggest check on Iran is the thought that Saudi Arabia will follow it. And perhaps Turkey and maybe eventually Egypt. So Iran has been working on nuclear capabilities for decades. It hasn’t gone very fast, and it has stayed short of some very important markers in terms of the enrichment level and extent of enriched uranium that it possesses that can be used to make bombs and in terms of the design of the weapons themselves, which is not an easy problem. And to the best—at least in terms of the information available to us publicly, they haven’t really even begun to do it. 

The agreement they signed up to in the Obama administration shipped out 98 percent of their enriched uranium and placed their most sensitive facilities under onsite inspections by an international agency for fifteen years. And some of the obligations they undertook were of indefinite duration. 

Now if a country is really in a hurry to get the bomb, it doesn’t agree to a fifteen-year hiatus. And I truly—and I don’t know what the disposition of this new agreement might be. The one that the Biden administration is trying to put together after the Trump administration walked away from the last one without anything better to put in its place. But I suspect the new agreement, if there is one, will face the same barrage of criticism as the last one, will be as hard to get through the Congress as the last one, and that won’t really be the most important barrier to Iranian nuclear emission. 

The most important barrier, in my view, is the recognition that if we, the Iranians, go there, other people will too, who are our primary competitors in this region. I’m not talking Israel. We know Israel has capability already. I’m talking about competitors within the Islamic world. Those are the competitors that matter most to Iran. 

TODD SECHSER: We’ve got time for one more question. Let’s go in the back there. Keep your hand up. Thank you. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER: This is a question both for Michael Krepon and other people in the audience too if they’ve heard this statement. But it’s my understanding that a high-level Russian, perhaps a chief in the general staff, wrote an article relatively recently that mentioned that if Russia were to undertake a military action and it were to ground down to some state that reached inertia, one way out for the Russians might be to use a nuclear weapon in an uninhabited area. I’m wondering if you’ve heard of that, if that statement was made. 

MICHAEL KREPON: I’m not aware of the statement, but I’m aware of the thinking behind it. I hope and expect that Putin will ask himself this question because I don’t think he’s lost his faculties. If I give NATO a mushroom cloud in a losing cause, a mushroom cloud that won’t change my grievous losses, I can’t stay in this country. I might be able to hold on to locations that I possessed before I waged this war and maybe a few slivers in addition, but the longer I stay, the more my position crumbles. And if I contemplate the use of a nuclear weapon, I will be the only person in human history who has waged an aggressive war and used a mushroom cloud against a country that voluntarily gave back to my country the nuclear weapons the Soviet Union left behind when the Soviet Union dissolved. The same country, by the way, that my predecessor Boris Yeltsin provided security assurances to, in return for giving back those nuclear weapons. Security assurances that its territorial integrity and national sovereignty were going to be respected. Do I want to be that guy? Do I want to find myself in the lowest rung of Dante’s Inferno? I think he’s capable of making the right decision there. I could be wrong. 

But whether I’m right or I am wrong, we continue to help Ukraine with military assistance, economic assistance, and humanitarian assistance. It’s the right thing to do, it’s the moral thing to do, and it’s the thing on which the architecture of arms control can be rebuilt. 

TODD SECHSER: Well, I think that’s a wonderful and hopefully optimistic note to end on. I have one final appeal for all of you, which is to please buy the book, Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace: The Rise, Demise, and Revival of Arms Control. As I said, a wonderful read and education in just a few pages. We make it easy for you. You can just walk to the back of the room and buy a copy. Michael will be available for signing books immediately after our event. But please join me in thanking Michael Krepon. 


Thanks to our bookseller for this event, New Dominion Bookshop.

“Michael Krepon, a child of the Cold War, dedicated his career to the effort to reduce the risk of a nuclear Armageddon. Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace is the culmination of his career. This chronicle of the leaders in Washington and Moscow who negotiated agreements to avert nuclear danger is powerful and wise.” —Strobe Talbott, Former Deputy Secretary of State

“Until now, there has been no comprehensive history of nuclear arms control; Michael Krepon’s masterful Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace fills that ICBM-size hole in the field. A must-read to understand our past efforts to tame the nuclear arms race, so that we can pursue them successfully again.” ―Vipin Narang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Krepon’s refreshingly realist message is that the world is stuck in the nuclear age: the idea of abolishing nuclear weapons and the notion of finding war-winning strategies for their use are both forms of escapism.” –Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs


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