Reducing the Risk of Accidental Launch: Time for a New Approach?



Pavel Podvig, CISAC

Date and Time

January 11, 2005 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Reuben W. Hills Conference Room

FSI Contact

Chana Rodriguez

The presentation examines the practical problems of reducing the danger of accidental launch and suggests that the current approach to the problem should be reconsidered. First, the U.S. launch-on-warning posture may represent a bigger problem than that of Russia. Second, the efforts to repair or augment the Russian early-warning system should not be pursued as part of the de-alerting agenda, since they probably increase risk of an accidental launch. Finally, the notion of transparency in de-alerting should be reconsidered, for verification prevents de-alerting from being effective. (A short summary of the presentation can be found at russian forces).

Pavel Podvig joined CISAC as a research associate in 2004. Before that he was a researcher at the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT). He spent several years as a visiting researcher with the Security Studies Program at MIT and with the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, and he taught physics in MIPT's General Physics Department for more than ten years. At the Center for Arms Control Studies, he worked on various technical and political issues of missile defense; U.S.-Russian arms control negotiations, and structure and history of the Russian strategic forces. During that time he was a principal investigator of a Russian Nuclear Forces research project, which produced a book, Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces. Podvig graduated with honors from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1988, with a degree in physics. In 2004 he received a PhD in political science from the Moscow Institute of World Economy and International Relations.