70 Years After Hiroshima, Ploughshares Fund Unveils New Grant to Support Scientists Working to Reduce Nuclear Threats

August 3, 2015

San Francisco/Washington, DC – Ploughshares Fund today launched the Paul Olum Grant Fund to support some of the most inventive scientific and technical minds working to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons. The announcement comes 70 years after the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and three days later, on Nagasaki.

The inaugural Paul Olum grantee is Dr. James E. Doyle, a veteran nuclear security expert who last year was unjustly fired from Los Alamos National Laboratory after publishing an article arguing the case for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione: 

“Scientists have often led global efforts to reduce and eliminate nuclear arsenals. Dr. Paul Olum, a staunch critic of the nuclear arms race during the Cold War, understood this," said Cirincione. “We believe that supporting other scientists to continue his fight is the best way to honor his legacy,”  

The late Paul Olum was a Manhattan Project scientist who worked under Robert Oppenheimer at Los Alamos to build the first atomic bomb.  He became a lifelong advocate of nuclear disarmament after World War II. In 1983, frightened for the future of humanity, he made national headlines when he convinced 70 of his former colleagues – five of them Nobel Prize winners – to sign on to a petition calling for an end to the nuclear arms race.  

 “America and other world powers took an important step towards global security – and away from another war in the Middle East – when they forged an agreement last month to block Iran’s pathways to a bomb. Even as we work to secure this deal, we cannot forget the threats from the more than 15,000 nuclear weapons held by nine nations today. Reducing these arsenals is just as crucial to global security as preventing a tenth state from building the bomb,” Cirincione added.

All nuclear weapons states have massive new programs underway to modernize their nuclear arsenals. Experts estimate that the U.S. alone will spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

Paul Olum Grant recipient Dr. James E. Doyle, an expert on technical aspects of arms control and nonproliferation, is now working on a study to demonstrate that a decreased U.S. nuclear arsenal totaling 1,000 total weapons or fewer is sufficient to meet the vital security interests of the U.S., its allies and close partners. 

Paul Olum grant recipient, Dr. James E. Doyle:

“I have the highest respect and admiration for Los Alamos scientists who had the courage and humanity to express their concerns about the moral implications of nuclear weapons,” said Doyle. “My own experiences at Los Alamos have put me squarely on the shoulders and in the footsteps of leaders like Paul Olum. Our nation and the world desperately need more individuals like him.”  

The Paul Olum Grant Fund will support the groundbreaking work of a different scientist or nuclear expert each year. It is made possible in part by the generosity of the Olum family, which since 1987 has supported Ploughshares Fund and its mission to ensure nuclear weapons are never used again.

Paul Olum’s son, Tufts University Astrophysicist Ken Olum:

"It's especially important for scientists to speak out because scientists unleashed this danger on the world in the first place and because – we hope – the public still has some respect for scientists and their views,” said Olum. “I hope that the grant recipients will carry on the tradition of nuclear scientists working for disarmament."