Adventures in Nuclear
Risk Reduction

About Nuclear Adventures

Nuclear policy communities have invaluable information vested in their stories. Because stories are social forms of knowledge, we forget how important they are. We need to tell them, listen to them, question them, and apply lessons from them.

Adventures in Nuclear Risk Reduction aims to facilitate intergenerational knowledge transfer by publishing stories on first-person experiences with risk reduction and elevating them for discussion between practitioners and early or mid-career experts.

We invite you to explore these stories, follow our series of storytelling events, and share your own story.

Video
Recovering Orphan Sources
By Nino Chkhobadze
April 2024
"Too many of our people were dying from being irradiated. If you organize the security systems first, you will have no one left to protect."
Podcast
The Black Sea Experiment
By Shelly Lesher, Tom Cochran, Frank von Hippel, and Steve Fetter
April 2024
"The Soviets allowed me to sit right on top of the launch tube, right above the warhead. They had made a little X at the point that was right below the warhead, but I verified that that was the location by running a little simple Geiger counter along the tube…"
Article
The Busiest Months
By Susan Koch
December 2023
"We were entering a new era of US-Soviet/Russian relations unlike anything we had ever experienced."
Video
Priorities and Mistakes
By Matthew Bunn
February 2024
"We might not have several years… Have you thought about getting the stuff out of there?!"
Article
Language and Missiles
By Natalya Romashko
November 2023
"As the missiles aged, even moving them became increasingly dangerous. Accomplishing this would require long-term cooperation between the United States and Russia and, therefore, needed English-Russian linguists."
Video
Auburn Endeavor
By Peter Mamradze
April 2024
"They were taken by this megalomania. Even physicists, scientists, were taken by this mythology: 'it’s so precious, we have to keep it.'"
Article
Soviet Radiation Legacy
By Lia Chelidze, with Nino Chkhobadze
April 2024
"We knew something was not quite right in the country when the calls started coming in from all around Georgia. It was like an unfolding and scattered disaster, one caused by orphaned radioactive sources."
Podcast
The Mathematician
By Shelly Lesher, Shorena Lortkipanidze, and Mariam Chabashvili
February 2024
"I was in the center of the project to remove fuel from Breeder-1. I was responsible for it and everything was swirling around me."
Video
Tracing the Cracks
By George Japaridze
April 2024
"When the mismanagement is based on running away from responsibility, it screws up very easily."
Podcast
Science and the Soviet Era
By Shelly Lesher, George Japaridze, and Revaz Shanidze
March 2024
"Science was not developing equally in the country. It was centralized. When the Soviet Union disappeared, good scientists left Moscow for the west in three months. Then the center disappeared, and the structure of science disappeared."
Video
Principles and Solidarity
By Vasil (Dato) Sikharulidze
April 2024
"Process is important, but objective is much more important… Principles never should be sacrificed to achieve some kind of technical agreement."
Article
Cooperation at Semey
By Siegfried S. Hecker
April 2023
"All he knew was the test site had serious radioactive contamination. He also lamented that it was overrun by scavengers who mined copper cables and anything else that could be removed and possibly sold on the international market."
Article
Roads to and from Minsk
By William M. Moon
April 2023
"Working relationships with a nuclear adversary involve years of trust building. When the relationship is betrayed, it can raise catastrophic risks. Recreating such a relationship seems impossible without looking back to see how it survived previous crises."
Article
"Deconfliction" in Syria
By Robert Hamilton
April 2023
"As the US and Russia pursued the destruction of ISIS in Syria, their ground forces came ever closer to one another. The US commander saw a need for a deconfliction cell to avoid inadvertent clashes. Weeks later, I flew out to take charge of the nascent cell."
Video
Tailings on the Baltic
By Cheryl Rofer
April 2023
"What it was was an enormous tailings pond—a kilometer long and half a kilometer wide—right on the Baltic Sea. The rain went through it and washed minerals from the pond, both radioactive and heavy metals, into the sea."
Article
Mongolia’s Long Borders
By Scott Roecker
April 2023
"I left this experience with a new appreciation for the generous nature of our Mongolian partners and their commitment to helping prevent nuclear materials from being smuggled across their vast and beautiful territory."
Video
The Smaller Question
By Tom Countryman
April 2023
"We got together in Geneva. In the very first evening consultations, you could see immediately that on the smaller question, what to do about chemical weapons, Russian and American interests lined up."
Article
The Greece Deployment
By Elly Melamed
April 2023
"This was an entirely new model for deploying portal monitors. And it had to completed on a tight and non-negotiable deadline. We began work in the fall of 2003, and the Olympics were held in mid-August 2004."
Video
Syrian Chemical Weapons
By Andy Weber
April 2023
"It sounds like it’s an ocean. 1,300 tons is an impossible amount. How do you deal with that? They did the math, and came back with the answer of about 200 truckloads. And all of a sudden, it becomes thinkable that you can accomplish this."
Article
The Outside Consultant
By Dmitry Kovchegin
April 2023
"Being Russian working on the American side of cooperation on a sensitive nuclear security topic, I found myself in a strange situation."
Video
The Queen of Safeguards
By Laura Rockwood
April 2023
"Well, Ms. Laura, everyone knows that if you want to know anything about the Additional Protocol, they have to talk to you."
Article
You Have to Be There
By Daniel Salisbury
April 2023
"Theory and practice often diverge in instructive ways. That is certainly the case with nuclear security. Site visits to nuclear facilities can demonstrate this, and are a hugely valuable part of nuclear security training and outreach."
Article
Dialogue and Safeguards
By Tomás Bieda
April 2023
"The relationship between Argentina and Brazil is undoubtedly complex, although not necessarily complicated. I witnessed firsthand how public policies can be coordinated at the bilateral level without necessarily having a unification of positions."
Article
Sarov Defense Conversion
By James W. Toevs
April 2023
"Working on the Nuclear Cities Initiative and its work in Sarov, home of Russia’s Los Alamos, crystalized for me some essential principles for cooperation."

The Queen of Safeguards

By Laura Rockwood

“Well, Ms. Laura, everyone knows that if you want to know anything about the Additional Protocol, they have to talk to you.”

WATCH NOW

Tailings on the Baltic

By Cheryl Rofer

What it was was an enormous tailings pond—a kilometer long and half a kilometer wide—right on the Baltic Sea. The rain went through it and washed minerals from the pond, both radioactive and heavy metals, into the sea.”

WATCH NOW

The Smaller Question

By Tom Countryman

We got together in Geneva. In the very first evening consultations, you could see immediately that on the smaller question, what to do about chemical weapons, Russian and American interests lined up.”

WATCH NOW

Syrian Chemical Weapons

By Andy Weber

“It sounds like it’s an ocean. 1,300 tons is an impossible amount. How do you deal with that? They did the math, and came back with the answer of about 200 truckloads. And all of a sudden, it becomes thinkable that you can accomplish this.”

WATCH NOW

Share Your Story

Do you have a story to tell about nuclear risk reduction? Adventures in Nuclear Risk Reduction is an evolving project to share the stories of nuclear policy professionals with a new generation of practitioners. If you have worked on nuclear risk reduction, click the button below to send us a brief description of the experience you wish to share for consideration to be included in this collection.

SHARE YOUR STORY

Nuclear Weapons Policy Program

The Stanley Center works with diverse stakeholders to preserve, adapt, and re-envision policy solutions that help states prevent the use of nuclear weapons. Questions about our work? Interested in collaborating? Follow us on Twitter (@StanleyConnect) or contact Ben Loehrke or Luisa Kenausis from our team working to avoid the use of nuclear weapons.

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