SIIS International Day


siisintlday masthead
From left to right: Lynn Eden, CISAC Associate Director for Research; Hans Blix, Chairman, Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission; Scott Sagan, CISAC Co-Director; and Christopher Chyba, CISAC Co-Director.

Hans Blix, chairman of the International Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction and former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, said at the Stanford Institute for International Studies' International Day, "Challenges in a New Era," on May 6 that he does not think the world faces a new nuclear arms race. Nuclear risks posed by terrorists and nations like Iran and North Korea could trigger a new nuclear arms race, warned CISAC Co-Director and Stanford professor Scott D. Sagan.

Blix said that there need not be a new arms race if the world diligently pursues diplomacy. Blix's speech attracted a strong response from Sagan, who participated in the same plenary panel titled "Looking Ahead: A New Nuclear Arms Race?" "I think there already is a new and very different kind of nuclear arms race going on," Sagan said. "It is a race between terrorists trying to develop a nuclear weapon and national and international efforts to stop that." As North Korea "race[s] ahead with its own persistent and provocative nuclear program," Sagan said the likelihood that the impoverished country will want to test its weapons or sell them to the highest bidder will increase. "I think Dr. Blix's paper greatly underestimates the threat of nuclear terrorism today," he said.

The exchange was one of many during the one day International Day that attracted hundreds of diplomats, policymakers, faculty and students. Other speakers included Oxford professor Paul Collier, the State Department counselor, Philip Zelikow, and Stonebridge International chairman, Samuel Berger. Zelikow and Berger both spoke on U.S. foreign policy.

The SIIS International Day also included discussion session on topics such as Russia's future, U.S. policy on the Korean peninsula, climate change, our energy future, United Nations reform, responses to infectious diseases, U.S.-European relations, and international criminal justice and security. Participants included both Stanford faculty and invited scholars, policymakers, and journalists.

Coit D. Blacker, director of SIIS, said the International Day, an annual event, will become part of the university's newly launched International Initiative that promotes interdisciplinary research and teaching. He also said the Stanford Institute for International Studies will be renamed the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, effective September 1, in recognition of alumni Bradford Freeman, a member of the university's Board of Trustees, and Ronald Spogli, a member of the SIIS board of visitors, who together donated a lead gift of $50 million to help launch the initiative last month.