Facing nuclear danger in the modern world

31 July 2017
Benoît Pelopidas

As New Zealand’s nuclear free law reaches its 30th anniversary, we're hosting leading French nuclear policy researcher Associate Professor Benoît Pelopidas for the annual Chapman Lecture on Tuesday 15 August.

Pelopidas is the foundation Junior Chair of Excellence in Security Studies at Sciences Po, Paris. With fellowships at Stanford and Princeton universities, he is also well connected in the worlds of United States, United Kingdom and French nuclear policy. In 2015, for example, former US Secretary of State George Shultz — the man who officially declared the suspension of US-NZ alliance ties in 1986 — asked Pelopidas to write the opening chapter of the book, The War that Must Never Be Fought.

"As Russia and the US slide back towards Cold War-style arms racing, Pelopidas provides a vital new voice offering alternative pathways to achieving global security," says lecture organiser Lyndon Burford, a PhD graduate of the University of Auckland and now non-resident Research Fellow at the Disarmament and Security Centre in Christchurch.

"Pelopidas's visit is particularly timely with 122 non-nuclear weapon states — almost two-thirds of UN members — voting last month in New York to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, rejecting the presence of nuclear weapons in any nation's arsenal."

Pelopidas's lecture will propose the notion of global nuclear vulnerability as a way of reconsidering the danger posed by existing nuclear arsenals, and will reconnect nuclear weapons politics to issues of democracy, knowledge production and control versus luck.

Facing nuclear danger: from proliferation to global nuclear vulnerability