Carolyn Pumphrey, Ph.D. 
NCSU/TISS Energy and Security Initiative 


Monday September 24, 2012 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT

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North Carolina State University Campus - Park Shop 
101 Current Drive
Park Shops 210
Raleigh, NC 27695

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The Threat of the Peaceful Atom: Through the Lens of Iran 

  • James Acton, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

  • Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council

  • Todd Sechser, University of Virginia


A lively debate exists among those who think that the development of commercial nuclear capabilities pose a serious danger for international security and those who do not.  On the one hand, there is disagreement as to whether or not civilian nuclear programs lead to proliferation. On the other hand, there is disagreement as to whether or not nuclear proliferation acts as a stabilizing or destabilizing force on the international scene.

The current crisis in Iran presents us with a lens through which to explore some of the controversies surrounding the development of the commercial nuclear power. A signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is suspected by many as using its civilian program as a cover for a developing weapons capability. Is it indeed so doing? If it is so doing, what does this tell us about the adequacy of legal and technical safeguards currently in place and/or the challenges of nuclear intelligence? What will the consequences be if it does indeed develop nuclear weapons? And finally, what lessons can we draw from the case of Iran, if any?

This panel will feature three speakers who will each give a ten to fifteen minute presentation. Each will be asked at the end to reflect briefly on lessons that might be drawn from the Iran experience. The floor will then be opened to questions from the audience.



Register Now!

You do not have to register ahead of time, but it is recommended. That way we can advise you by email of any changes to the program and you can be guaranteed a seat.  Registration will close automatically when seats are filled. If you do register, please print out a ticket and show it to the usher at the door. Please be sure to arrive 10 minutes before start time - after that empty seats will be given to walk-ons. If you have to cancel ahead of time, let me know by email (pumphrey@duke.edu) and I will remove you from the list. If you want to register but seats are all taken, send me an email and I will put you on a wait list and add you as space becomes available.



About  the Speakers:

Trita Parsi is President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and author of the award winning book, Treacherous Alliance - The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States  and (just published), A Single Roll of the Dice - Obama's Diplomacy with Iran. He has worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN, where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Western Sahara, and in the General Assembly's Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.   He holds a doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a Master's Degree in International Relations from Uppsala University and a Master's Degree in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics.

 James M. Acton is a senior associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment.  Prior to assuming this position he taught in the Department of War Studies at King's College, U.K. He specializes in deterrence, disarmament, non-proliferation, and nuclear energy and his research projects have included analyses of IAEA safeguards in Iran, verifying disarmament in North Korea and preventing novel forms of radiological terrorism.  His research and writing focuses on developing realistic pathways towards a world without nuclear weapons by strengthening non-proliferation bulwarks and rethinking deterrence. Among his works are two books co-edited with George Perkovich on Abolishing Nuclear Weapons. He earned his doctorate in Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University, UK.

Todd S. Sechser is an Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. From 2011–2012 he was a Stanton nuclear security fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). His research interests include coercion in international relations, the strategic effects of nuclear weapons, and civil-military relations. He has published his research in several academic journals, including International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Conflict Management and Peace Science. Before entering academia, Sechser worked as a policy analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Sechser received his PhD in political science from Stanford University, where he wrote an award-winning doctoral dissertation, and he has held research fellowships at Stanford University and Harvard University.

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