Potter addresses nuclear terrorism in lecture

Vanessa Oceguera
Staff Writer

The audience remained silent as William Potter, director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, described a fictional scenario in which three terrorists discuss the current status of nuclear proliferation in the world, and how they might obtain highly enriched uranium.

Potter presented his lecture “Confronting the Challenges of Nuclear Terrorism and Proliferation: Is There a Way Forward?” Wednesday in the Campus Center ballroom at the ninth annual Bhutto Ispahani International lectureship.

“Any informed citizen should be aware of the major challenges that confront his or her country,” Potter said. “I think almost everyone would identify the dangerous post by nuclear weapons to be among the most critical challenges that we face.”

Nuclear proliferation is the spread of nuclear technology that could be used as weapons to nations not recognized as “nuclear weapon states.” The Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to achieve nuclear disarmament, designates the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France as nuclear weapon states.

Potter explained the current situation with nuclear terrorism involving other countries, and how we can contribute to better education regarding this.

Potter focused on the role education plays at a university. Many universities do not offer courses in nuclear proliferation. Middlebury Institute of International Studies, where Potter teaches, has the largest education area of nonproliferation.

“We have to counter ignorance and complacency and that’s something that a university such is yours can and should do,” Potter said.

Potter explained how people must understand that technologies that have the potential to do considerable good, but also have the potential to do great harm.

Junior political science major Mariela Martinez attended the lecture for her Latin American and comparative politics class.

“It relates to topics we are talking about in class but also unknown questions we are facing with countries around the world today, specifically Iran and North Korea, and the development of nuclear technology,” Martinez said.

Amini said Potter is in high demand given his impressive credentials and expertise.

He has served on several committees of the United States National Academy of Sciences, was a member of the United Nations secretary general’s advisory board on disarmament matters for five years and is currently a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Vanessa Oceguera can be reached at vanessa.oceguera@laverne.edu.

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