Arms control analystRoger Molander

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With a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, Molander quickly rose up the ranks in the U.S. Dept. of Defense as an arms control analyst, and served on the White House National Security Council in the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations. But in the late 1970s, at a meeting in the Pentagon, “A Navy captain was saying that people here and in Europe were getting too upset about the consequences of nuclear war,” Molander said at the time. “The captain added that people were talking as if nuclear war would be the end of the world when, in fact, only 500 million people would be killed.” Molander was aghast at the notion. “I remember sitting there and repeating that phrase to myself: ‘Only 500 million people!’ Only one-eighth of the world’s population!” Molander quit and founded Ground Zero, an advocacy and educational organization devoted to reducing the threat of nuclear war. To stimulate discussion, he wrote a book, Nuclear War: What’s in It for You?, which became a best-seller and brought the idea of a “suitcase nuke” to the public’s attention — that a terrorist could smuggle in a hand-carried atomic bomb. Molander later moved on to other organizations to promote arms control, such as the Roosevelt Center for Policy Studies, where he helped brief presidential candidates on the topic of arms control before debates. Dr. Molander died March 25 from liver cancer. He was 71.

From This is True for 1 April 2012