FPI and ACA Hill Briefing: "Worth Deferring: A Sino-Japanese Plutonium Production Race"


Are China and Japan on the verge of a plutonium production race? Each country plans to acquire plutonium reprocessing capabilities that could create thousands of bombs worth of fissile material annually. Will South Korea follow its neighbors down this path?

Introductory Remarks:

Christopher J. Griffin
Foreign Policy Initiative

Expert Panel:

Mark Holt
Congressional Research Service

Dr. Gordon Oehler
Former Director, CIA Nonproliferation Center

Henry Sokolski
Nonproliferation Policy Education Center

Moderated By:

Kingston Reif
Arms Control Association

Speaker Biographies

Mark Holt has been a Congressional Research Service policy analyst specializing in nuclear energy since 1988. He was head of the CRS Energy and Minerals Section in the Resources, Science, and Industry Division from 1997 to 2008. His recent CRS reports include Advanced Nuclear Power and Fuel Cycle Technologies: Outlook and Policy Options, Nuclear Energy Policy, Civilian Nuclear Waste Disposal, and U.S. and South Korean Cooperation in the World Nuclear Energy Market: Major Policy Considerations. Before joining CRS, he covered energy issues for four and a half years with the Environmental and Energy Study Conference, a bipartisan, bicameral congressional caucus. He was a reporter for Washington-based publications from 1980 to 1983. Holt graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1980 with a BS in Journalism.

Dr. Gordon Oehler received both a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a 1981 graduate of the National War College. After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Oehler worked for a small firm in upper New York where he designed instrumentation for metallurgical applications. He subsequently joined the CIA in 1972 and served in a variety of analytical and managerial positions involving weapons systems and foreign policy analysis. Included in these assignments were the Chief of the Technology Transfer Assessment Center (responsible for impeding the flow of Western technology into Soviet weapons programs) and the Director of the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (responsible for all analysis and reporting relating to foreign weapon systems and technology developments). In May 1992, Dr. Oehler was appointed the Director of the Nonproliferation Center. In this capacity, he was the senior Intelligence Community spokesman on proliferation issues. After leaving the CIA in October 1997, he served as corporate vice president for corporate development at Science Applications International Corporation. Subsequent to that, he was a deputy staff director for the president’s WMD commission that examined the intelligence failures leading up to the second Gulf war. The commission made seventy-three recommendations to improve intelligence capabilities—most of which have been adopted. He currently serves on a senior policy advisory board for the Department of State and is a working group chairman for the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

Henry D. Sokolski is the Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a Washington-based nonprofit organization founded in 1994 to promote a better understanding of strategic weapons proliferation issues among policymakers, scholars and the media. He teaches as an adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. From 1989 to 1993, Sokolski served as the Deputy for Nonproliferation Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, for which he received the Secretary of Defense's Medal for Outstanding Public Service. Prior to this, he worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Office of Net Assessment on proliferation issues. In addition to his Executive Branch service, Sokolski worked on the Hill from 1984 through 1988 as Senior Military Legislative Aide to Senator Dan Quayle (R-IN), and from 1982 through 1983 as Special Assistant on Nuclear Energy Matters to Senator Gordon J. Humphrey (R-NH).He also worked as a consultant on strategic weapons proliferation issues to the Intelligence Community's National Intelligence Council; received a Congressional appointment to the Deutch Proliferation Commission, which completed its report in July 1999; served as a member of the Central Intelligence Agency's Senior Advisory Panel from 1995 to 1996; and was a member of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, which operated until 2010. Mr. Sokolski has authored and edited a number of books on nuclear proliferation including, "Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future," “Best of Intentions: America's Campaign Against Strategic Weapons Proliferation” (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001).

Kingston Reif is the Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, where his work focuses on nuclear disarmament, preventing nuclear terrorism, missile defense, and the defense budget. Reif is an expert on the legislative process and closely monitors Congressional action on these issues. Prior to joining the Arms Control Association, Reif was the Director of Nuclear-Nonproliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation and Council for a Livable World. Reif originally came to the Center in 2008 as a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow. From September 2008 until May 2009 he served as Dr. Morton Halperinâ's research assistant on the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission. Reif returned to the Center in May 2009 as the Deputy Director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation. Reif holds a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University. He spent two years in the U.K. as a British Marshall Scholar where he received a MSc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a M.Litt. in International Security Studies from the University of St. Andrews. Reif is a 2014 Truman National Security Project Fellow.

Chris Griffin joined the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) as Executive Director in January 2013. Previously, he served as legislative director to Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-CT), advising the senator on the full range of legislative proposals and key votes. Between 2008 and 2011, he was Senator Lieberman's military legislative assistant, in which capacity he developed the senator's legislative agenda as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chairman of its Airland Subcommittee. Prior to joining Senator Lieberman's staff, Mr. Griffin was a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy (2005-2008), where he focused on U.S. foreign and defense policy toward the Asia-Pacific. During his time at AEI, Mr. Griffin was also a contributing editor to the Armed Forces Journal, writing feature articles on international defense industrial cooperation and a monthly column titled the "Blogs of War." Mr. Griffin's writings have been published in the Washington PostWall Street Journal, and New York Times. Mr. Griffin received a B.A. in international studies from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and an M.A. in international studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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