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Project Base Camp: Assessing Alternative Paths to the Nuclear-Free Mountaintop

Dec 10 – 11, 2008

St. Regis Hotel
Washington, DC


On December 10th and 11th 2008, the Center for A New American Security and the Nuclear Threat Initiative co-hosted a dinner and conference for Project Base Camp: Assessing Alternative Paths to the Nuclear-Free Mountaintop. Project Base Camp builds on the foundation of former Secretary of Defense William Perry, Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, and Senator Sam Nunn, who have described a nuclear-free world as a distant "mountaintop" that the United States should move toward and eventually ascend. This project involves developing, comparing and integrating alternative staging grounds, or "base camps," on this path. Four experts - Dr. Pavel Podvig, Dr. Ariel Levite, Dr. Bruno Tetrais, and Philipp Bleek – independently produced and presented distinct base camps that involve changes to key parts of the problem including nuclear force sizes and postures, fissile material controls, defenses, conventional balances, verification and compliance regimes, and so on.

The conference began with dinner and opening remarks from one of the original “four horsemen”, former Secretary of Defense William Perry. Secretary Perry emphasized the importance of President-elect Barack Obama’s first three months in office as a critical time to establish America’s commitment towards meaningful disarmament. President-elect Obama must re-awaken the world to the unacceptable danger of nuclear weapons and re-engage Russia in significant arms control treaties.

On day two of the conference the four authors presented their alternative base camps, followed by an in-depth discussion and debate among a small and select group including nuclear experts; specialists on critical regions such as Russia, Iran, and North Korea; and general foreign policy practitioners. The final product will be a CNAS capstone report synthesizing the four expert papers and lessons learned from the event.

To read the original articles from George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, please see below:

January 4, 2007--Wall Street Journal: A World Free of Nuclear Weapons

January 15, 2008--Wall Street Journal: Toward a Nuclear-Free World