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Press Release: Nuclear Arms Adviser Sidney Drell to Receive Heinz Public Policy Award

Date Issued: May 3, 2005




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Theoretical physicist and arms control expert Sidney Drell has been selected to receive the 11th annual Heinz Award for Public Policy. The award, which will be presented May 24 at a private ceremony in Washington, D.C., includes $250,000 for unrestricted use and a medallion with the image of the late Sen. John Heinz on one side and a rendering of a globe passing between two hands on the other. It honors Drell for more than four decades of work to make the world a safer place.

"Throughout one of the most perilous and uncertain periods of world history, Dr. Sidney Drell has provided steady, reasoned guidance and unparalleled expertise to countless policymakers at the highest levels of government," said Teresa Heinz Kerry, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation. "His scientific insights laid the foundation for an impassioned advocacy, championing a doctrine that reduced the threat of nuclear war while ensuring U.S. security. We are grateful for his leadership and conviction and proud to honor him with the Heinz Award for Public Policy."

Drell, who retired as a professor and deputy director at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in 1998, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a consultant to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has served on countless advisory panels to Congress, the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy and the Central Intelligence Agency, and is a member of an elite cadre of scientists who advise the government on technical and highly classified national security matters.

He is a founding and active member of JASON, a prestigious academically based advisory panel on various issues related to national security. Ten years ago, when the nation was faced with the debate over whether weapons labs should be able to conduct underground nuclear weapons explosions to assure that warheads were safe and reliable, Drell led a JASON study that concluded that nuclear testing was not necessary for this purpose. With the scientific questions answered reliably, a consensus based on sound policy ensued. The United States signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996, although it still remains to be ratified by the Senate.

In the 1960s, Drell led an effort to fix bugs in the nation's first photoreconnaissance satellite, Corona. He helped develop verification methods for the world's first nuclear arms control treaty and was a leading scientific critic of the ballistic missile defense system during the 1980s. Most recently, his intellectual arguments last year opposing a new nuclear weapon (the so-called "bunker buster") helped provide the rationale for removing much of the proposed funding of the weapon from the omnibus budget bill.

In mentoring other scientists through the years, Drell has urged them to analyze the public policy implications of advances in their fields. As founding co-director of Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control (now known as the Center for International Security and Cooperation), he also has urged scholars to ground their policy work in underlying technical realities.

"My life's work has focused on the sobering reality that the world is a dangerous place, and yet it is critical to understand that the complex debate over nuclear weapons was not a Cold War phenomenon but represents an ever-present threat that requires our constant vigilance," Drell said. "Now more than ever, we must ensure that our policies toward nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation are sound, scientifically based and reflect the principles of our nation. To me, this award is a validation of that point of view, and I am pleased and proud to accept it."

by Dawn Levy, News Service, (650) 725-1944,

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