Profs Talk Civil Defense

Rosen says Harvard should be prepared for nuclear fallout in case of attack

A prominent Harvard professor of war and international relations pushed for the development of civil defense measures at the University in a discussion on the threat of nuclear terrorism yesterday,

In an event at Harvard Hall, Kaneb Professor of National Security and Military Affairs Stephen P. Rosen ’74 said that the U.S. should focus on both deterring terrorist groups from using nuclear weapons as well as developing the ability to defend itself in case of a nuclear attack.

Despite describing it as a “grisly and depressing” process, Rosen suggested that Harvard needed to also take precautions to protect people from nuclear fallout in case of an attack.

Dillon Professor of Government Graham T. Allison Jr., who also spoke at the discussion, warned about the ease with which small nuclear weapons or their components can be transported across borders and into terrorists’ hands.

Allison, who is also the director of the Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, outlined a strategy to minimize the chances of nuclear terrorism: preventing the emergence of new nuclear states, accounting for all existing nuclear weapons, and ensuring that no new nuclear arms are created.

Allison, who wrote “Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe,” a New York Times Notable Book, said, “The U.S. should start a doctrine of enforced nuclear accountability.”

Yesterday’s event was organized by the student-run International Relations Council and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

The discussion was part of a national terrorism awareness campaign led by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a public advocacy organization, and a group called The Families of September 11.

Carrie Lemack, a 2006 Kennedy School graduate whose mother died in the Sept. 11 attacks and who works for both organizations, emphasized the importance of promoting student awareness regarding the threat of nuclear terrorism.

“Students have a huge role to play, and they have a lot of energy to make a difference,” she said.