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What role should nuclear weapons play in our national defense? Are nuclear weapons the most useful tool to combat US adversaries? In light of today’s budgetary constraints, how should the U.S. spend its more limited resources on defense?

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center will explore these and other questions at 6:00 p.m. on September 19 in a forum featuring former U.S. ambassador and energy undersecretary Linton Brooks. The event is free and open to the public.

Brooks has more than five decades of experience in national security and specifically nuclear policy. He will deliver the address “21st Century Nuclear Challenges” and take questions from participants.

He is now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University. Brooks has served as the administrator of the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and chief negotiator of the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Prior to his government service, he was a Navy officer and was deployed on four nuclear-equipped ships.

The former ambassador will examine how to best shape the U.S. nuclear posture and policies in the twenty-first century. Howard Hall, senior fellow of global security policy at the Baker Center and a UT Governor’s Chair, said the discussion about nuclear energy in national defense has changed dramatically since the Cold War.

Nuclear issues used to be front and center in the headlines and our national defense strategy, defined superpower politics, and was the reason why all school children knew where the local bomb shelter was located.

“Despite the even possible greater dangers nuclear weapons and material pose today, the nuclear security agenda has receded in the national debate,” said Hall. “Threats abound such as the nuclear programs of rogue states such as Iran and North Korea, the danger of nuclear terrorism, increasing numbers of nuclear weapons in volatile or fragile parts of the world like Pakistan, and the nuclear disaster in Japan. US national security and global stability will continue to hinge on—and be challenged by—global stockpiles of nuclear weapons, vulnerable nuclear material worldwide and the byproducts of nuclear energy production throughout the twenty-first century.”

This event is sponsored by the Baker Center, the Hudson Institute, the Partnership for a Secure America, and the Stanley Foundation.

UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan institute devoted to education and scholarship concerning public policy and civic engagement. Through classes, public lectures, research, and outreach programs, the center aims to provide policy makers, citizens, scholars, and students with the information and skills necessary to work effectively within our political system and to serve our local, state, national, and global communities.


Howard Hall, 865-974-2525,


Nissa Dahlin-Brown, 865-974-0931,