Q: There is an argument that has been applied to the development of nuclear
weapons that says you have to build what's buildable, that you can't really
stop progress, that this so-called technological imperative is in fact
unstoppable. Do you hold this view?|
RG: No, I don't believe in the technological imperative at all. I think there
are lots of things that you can do, and you can see have very bad implications
and you stop and you try to get people not to do it. I know that Edward Teller
is a proponent of the technological imperative. I think it's stronger for him
than his anti-communism even. I think that is what has driven him all his
life. Even many of my friends in the arms control community argue that you
can't really decide whether something should be controlled until you've done
it. But there are many examples to the contrary.
We had a big biological weapons program and in 1969 President Nixon asked his
science advisory committee of which I was a member...to look at the possibility
of a ban on biological weapons and toxins. And we studied it and decided that
there was a horrible future out there and it would be much better if there were
an international treaty...So we have an executive order eliminating U.S.
capability, research development holdings or use of BW or toxins.
Many people criticized that saying that the Russians would never now sign an
international agreement now that the U.S. had unilaterally abandoned this work.
But in fact the Russians signed up in short order in 1972. We have the BW
convention. Now, of course, it turns out that the Russians cheated on it and
they have, under Mr. Gorbachev, they have said their program has been brought
to an end, and under Mr. Yeltsin again, they've said their program has been
brought to an end, and I think that it would have been brought to an end had
the economic conditions in Russia been better.
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