Letter To The Editor: History Lecture Prompts Nuclear Points

By JOHN BARTLIT
Los Alamos
 
The November lecture that was brought to town by the Los Alamos Historical Society was on Tuesday night at Fuller Lodge.
 
The speaker was Dr. Jeffrey Boutwell, who is closely associated with the long-running Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. His topic was “Joseph Rotblat: A Singular Figure in 20th Century Nuclear Politics.”
 
The program and discussions with Dr. Boutwell reinforced my basic thoughts about nuclear politics. To be very brief:
  • The morality or immorality of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II is not what determines the course of nuclear politics.  
  • The decisive factor in nuclear politics is the extent of technical and human capabilities for surveillance and verification of nuclear weapons activities. 
 
In my brief exchange of ideas with Dr. Boutwell after his lecture, he strongly concurred with both of these thoughts. I see these points as a mutual contribution to prompt further discussion during the 75th anniversary year of the end of World War II. 
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