Theodore A. Postol: Nuclear Weapons, Missile Technology, and U.S. Diplomacy — #12

Theodore A. Postol is professor emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is widely known as an expert on nuclear weapons and missile technology.

Theodore A. Postol is professor emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is widely known as an expert on nuclear weapons and missile technology.

Educated in physics and nuclear engineering at MIT, he was a researcher at Argonne National Lab, worked at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and was scientific advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations.

After leaving the Pentagon, Postol helped to build a program at Stanford University to train mid-career scientists to study weapons technology in relation to defense and arms control policy.

He has received numerous awards, including the Leo Szilard Prize from the American Physical Society for "incisive technical analysis of national security issues that [have] been vital for informing the public policy debate",  the Norbert Wiener Award from Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility for "uncovering numerous and important false claims about missile defenses", and the Richard L. Garwin Award "that recognizes an individual who, through exceptional achievement in science and technology, has made an outstanding contribution toward the benefit of mankind."

Steve and Ted discuss:

0:00 Introduction
2:02 Early life in Brooklyn, education at MIT, work at the Pentagon
20:27 Reagan’s “Star Wars” defense plan
28:26 U.S. influence on Russia and China’s second-strike capabilities
54:41 Missile defense: vs nuclear weapons, scuds, anti-ship missiles (aircraft carriers), hypersonics
1:11:42 Nuclear escalation and the status of mutually assured destruction
1:32:24 Analysis of claims the Syrian government used chemical agents against their own people
1:44:45 Media skepticism
 
Resources:

Theodore Postol at MIT
https://sts-program.mit.edu/people/emeriti-faculty/theodore-postol/

A Flawed and Dangerous US Missile Defense Plan, G. Lewis and T. Postol, Arms Control Today
https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010-05/flawed-dangerous-us-missile-defense-plan

Review Cites Flaws in US antimissile Program, NY Times May 17 2010
https://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/world/18missile.html

Improving US Ballistic Missile Defense Policy, G. Lewis and F. von Hippel, Arms Control Today, May 2018

“Whose Sarin?” by Seymour Hersh (2013)
https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v35/n24/seymour-m.-hersh/whose-sarin

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Music used with permission from Blade Runner Blues Livestream improvisation by State Azure.


Steve Hsu is Professor of Theoretical Physics and of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering at Michigan State University. Previously, he was Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at MSU and Director of the Institute of Theoretical Science at the University of Oregon. Hsu is a startup founder (SafeWeb, Genomic Prediction, Othram) and advisor to venture capital and other investment firms. He was educated at Caltech and Berkeley, was a Harvard Junior Fellow, and has held faculty positions at Yale, the University of Oregon, and MSU.

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