When the Soviet Union dissolved on Dec. 25, 1991, the nuclear threat changed from the Cold War concern of ending civilization as we know it to one of securing "loose nukes" in chaotic Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union. I had the opportunity to visit the secret cities of the Russian nuclear complex six weeks after the collapse and to initiate a program of scientific collaboration between U.S. and Russian nuclear scientists. Together, we made remarkable progress in reducing the threat in the early and mid-1990's because of the trust we were able to build based on mutual respect, similar objectives, and a common heritage in the great early-20th century school of European physics.
Although the number of joint U.S. - Russian cooperative threat reduction programs increased and the U.S. funding rose dramatically at the turn of the millennium, real progress slowed as U.S. and Russian objectives began to diverge, and the programs became politicized and bureaucratized. Major opportunities to reduce the long-term threat were lost. Cooperation was re-energized by the tragic events of 9/11 and the emerging threat of nuclear terrorism. Today, both Presidents Bush and Putin agree that keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists is their highest security priority. Yet, strategy and commitment on both sides appear incommensurate with the threat. I will discuss critical barriers to and opportunities for renewed cooperation to meet the threat.
Siegfried S. Hecker is currently a Senior Fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Hecker was Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1986-1997. He joined the Laboratory as technical staff member of the Physical Metallurgy Group in 1973, following a postdoctoral assignment there in 1968-1970 and a summer graduate student assignment in 1965. He served as Chairman of the Center for Materials Science and Division Leader of the Materials Science and Technology Division before becoming Director. From 1970 to 1973 he was a senior research metallurgist with the General Motors Research Laboratories.
Dr. Hecker received his B.S. in metallurgy in 1965 and M.S. in metallurgy in 1967 from Case Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in metallurgy in 1968 from Case Western Reserve University.
Dr. Hecker is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the TMS (Minerals, Metallurgy and Materials Society), Fellow of the American Society for Metals, Honorary Member of the American Ceramics Society, and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among other awards, Dr. Hecker received the American Nuclear Society Seaborg Medal (2004), the Acta Materialia J. Herbert Hollomon Award (2004), the Case Western Reserve University Alumni Association Gold Medal (2004) and Undergraduate Distinguished Alumni Award (2001), the New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award, (1998); was named Laboratory Director of the Year by the Federal Laboratory Consortium, (1998); received an honorary Doctor of Science degree (Honoris Causa) from Case Western Reserve University (1998); received the Department of Energy's Distinguished Associate Award, (1997); the University of California's President's Medal, (1997); the ASM Distinguished Life Membership Award, (1997); an Honorary Degree of Scientiae Doctoris, Ripon College (1997); the Navy League New York Council Roosevelt Gold Medal for Science (1996); the Aviation Week Group Laurels Award for National Security (1995); the James O. Douglas Gold Medal Award (1990); the ASM International's Distinguished Lectureship in Materials and Society, (1989); the Kent Van Horn Distinguished Alumnus Award, Case Western Reserve University (1989); an Honorary Degree of Scientiae Doctoris, College of Santa Fe, (1988); the Year's Top 100 Innovations Award from Science Digest (1985); the Department of Energy's E. O. Lawrence Award, (1984); the American Society for Metals, Marcus A. Grossman Young Author Award (1976); and the Wesley P. Sykes Outstanding Metallurgist Award, Case Institute of Technology (1965). He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Council on Foreign Relations, Tau Beta Pi Honorary Engineering Fraternity, Alpha Sigma Mu Honorary Metallurgical Fraternity, and the Society of Sigma Xi.
In addition to his current research activities in plutonium science and stockpile stewardship, he works closely with the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy on a variety of cooperative threat reduction programs. Dr. Hecker is also actively involved with the U.S. National Academies, serving on the Council of the National Academy of Engineering, serving as chair of the newly established Committee on Counterterrorism Challenges for Russia and the United States, and as a member of the National Academies Committee on Nuclear Nonproliferation. He is a member of ASM International and TMS, the Minerals/Metals/Materials Society, having served both in numerous local and national positions, and a member of the Materials Research Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council. He serves on the Corporate Advisory Panel of the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment, is a member of the Advisory Group to the Cooperative Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), and previously served on the Board of Regents for the University of New Mexico.