The Albritton Center for Grand Strategy and the Political Science Department at the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University presents “Hinge Points: An Inside Look at North Korea’s Nuclear Program” on Wednesday, April 26 in the Allen Building, Room 1110, 1000 George Bush Dr. W. College Station, TX 77845. Registration is required for the event, which begins at 5:00 PM.
North Korea remains a puzzle to Americans. How did this country—one of the most isolated in the world and in the policy cross hairs of every U.S. administration during the past 30 years—progress from zero nuclear weapons in 2001 to a threatening arsenal of perhaps 50 such weapons in 2021?
Hinge Points brings readers literally inside the North Korean nuclear program, joining Siegfried Hecker to see what he saw and hear what he heard in his visits to North Korea from 2004 to 2010. Hecker goes beyond the technical details—described in plain English from his on-the-ground experience at the North’s nuclear center at Yongbyon—to put the nuclear program exactly where it belongs, in the context of decades of fateful foreign policy decisions in Pyongyang and Washington.
Describing these decisions as “hinge points,” he traces the consequences of opportunities missed by both sides. The result has been that successive U.S. administrations have been unable to prevent the North, with the weakest of hands, from becoming one of only three countries in the world that might target the United States with nuclear weapons. Hecker’s unique ability to marry the technical with the diplomatic is well informed by his interactions with North Korean and U.S. officials over many years, while his years of working with Russian, Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani nuclear officials have given him an unmatched breadth of experience from which to view and interpret the thinking and perspective of the North Koreans.
About the speaker
Siegfried Hecker is the former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Professor Emeritus of Stanford University. He is currently Professor of the Practice at the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University and Distinguished Faculty Fellow in the Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives (NSSPI). He is also Distinguished Professor of Practice at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He was at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 34 years, including serving as its fifth director from 1986 through 1997. He was at Stanford University for 17 years in the Department of Management Science and Engineering and in the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC),including serving as co-director from 2007 to 2012. Hecker has worked on nuclear matters for most of his career, including having visited all countries with declared nuclear weapons programs, including North Korea. Hecker is the editor of Doomed to Cooperate (2016), two volumes documenting the history of Russian-U.S. laboratory-to-laboratory cooperation and Hinge Points: An Inside Look at North Korea’s Nuclear Program (2023) written with Elliot Serbin.