Scientific and Policy Aspects of the Iran Nuclear Deal - Friday 1 December 2017

14 November 2017

Professor Frederick K. Lamb
University of Illinois

Friday 1 December 2017 at 3.30pm
Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, followed by reception

Title: Scientific and Policy Aspects of the Iran Nuclear Deal

Abstract: I will begin with a brief introduction to the physics and technology of nuclear weapons and how the nuclear materials used in these weapons are produced. I will then focus on the context and history of Iran’s nuclear program, the restrictions on its program that are imposed by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and other international agreements (“the Iran Nuclear Deal”), and the physics, technology, and capabilities of the verification methods that are being used to monitor Iran’s compliance with these agreements. I will conclude by describing the current status of the Iran Nuclear Deal and the prospects for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.


About the speaker

Professor Lamb has actively participated in efforts to advance national and international security for nearly four decades. He is an expert on space policy, military uses of space, ballistic missiles, missile defences, anti-satellite weapons, and the technical aspects of nuclear test bans, verification of arms control agreements, and nuclear non-proliferation.

In 1981 Lamb initiated and co-developed an undergraduate course titled "Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear War, and Arms Control". This course has been taught every year since, usually by Lamb until 2013, when Professor Grosse Perdekamp took over teaching it. It is thought to be the longest-running course on this subject in the United States.

Lamb has served as a consultant on international security and arms control questions to the Department of Defence, the Department of Energy, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and various Congressional committees, including the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has been a consultant to the Institute for Defence Analyses and U.S. national laboratories, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia. He has also served on numerous U.S. government panels concerned with national security issues. He is currently advising the U.S. government on questions related to North Korean ballistic missiles, defences against long-range ballistic missiles, and the Iran Nuclear Deal.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lamb helped develop verification methods for underground nuclear explosions, carrying out some of the first multi-dimensional computations of such explosions and showing that their evolution can be described by a semi-analytical scaling theory. During this period he advised the test ban negotiators in Geneva in real time and became one of the lead scientists for the U.S. test ban verification program. During 2001–2003 he co-chaired a national study of ground-, air-, and spaced-based boost-phase missile defence that was sponsored by the American Physical Society.

Lamb’s physics and astrophysics research has focused on problems in high-energy and relativistic astrophysics. He pioneered the study of neutron star cosmic X-ray sources and developed the standard theory of X-ray pulsars. His modelling of the high-frequency X-ray oscillations produced by neutron stars has made possible accurate measurements of their masses and radii and strong-field general relativistic effects, and interesting constraints on the properties of ultra dense matter.

Lamb has served on numerous NSF and NASA scientific advisory committees and panels. He played a major role in the conception, design, development, and operation of NASA's highly successful Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer space astronomy mission from 1979 onward. He was a member of the scientific panels that guided the development and operation of the mission from 1994 until it ended in 2012, and served as Chair of the Rossi Users Group from 1997 to 2008. He is a key member of the Science Team for NASA’s NICER space astronomy mission, which was launched on June 3, 2017 and is currently returning science data on neutron stars and black holes.

Lamb received his bachelor's degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1967 and his D.Phil. in theoretical physics from Oxford University in 1970. A fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1970 to 1972, he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1972 as an assistant professor of physics and became a full professor in 1978. He was appointed a full professor of astronomy in 1980.

In 2005, Lamb was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his pioneering research in X-ray astronomy and shared the American Physical Society’s Leo Szilard Award for his work on nuclear test bans and his leadership of the 2003 APS sStudy of boost-phase missile defence.

Lamb is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society (London), and a Member of the American Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union. He has been a Marshall Scholar, a National Science Foundation Fellow, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, and a Carnegie Foundation Science Fellow.

In 1998 Lamb was chosen to be the inaugural holder of the Brand and Monica Fortner Endowed Chair in Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Illinois and was appointed the Director of the Center for Theoretical Astrophysics in 1999. He is currently a Research Professor of Physics and a Professor in the Program in Arms Control & Domestic and International Security at the University of Illinois.

Lamb is the author or co-author of more than 200 articles, monographs, and chapters in books on topics in physics, astrophysics, and national and international security.