Paul Carroll

Director of Programs
San Francisco, CA

Paul directs all of Ploughshares Fund’s grantmaking efforts and provides strategic guidance to the president, executive director and the board. He works to ensure that our grants are the most effective to achieve the goal of reducing the risks from nuclear weapons. Paul is a well-regarded expert on a broad array of nuclear weapons topics, from the history and current status of US plans and programs, to international programs and treaty regimes. He has a particular expertise on the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons infrastructure - where warheads are designed, built, tested, and stored. He also is an expert on North Korea’s program and the challenges to limiting it, having traveled to the DPRK twice with nongovernmental delegations.

Prior to joining Ploughshares Fund in 2000, Paul worked on nuclear weapons issues at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, DC. He also worked on environmental issues at a regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He has published articles and appeared as a commentator for a number of media outlets including The Daily Beast, Hannity, CNN International, Fox News, AP Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Al Jazeera America, among others.

Paul has a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a Masters of Public Policy in National Security Studies from the University of Maryland.

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Recent content

It is understandable that the American public generally doesn’t know much about nuclear weapons – how many there are, how much they cost, why we still have so many. The topic has not been “news” for most of the past fifteen years or so. Media attention on security issues instead gravitates toward the major crises of the day. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the intermittent but predictable Israeli-Palestinian clashes.

Ploughshares Fund is sad to learn of the passing of Jonathan Schell. Jonathan was an inspiration. With his passing the nation has lost a strong voice for democracy.

December is usually a time to look forward to surprises. The year’s end, holiday events and gift giving are a time to reflect, appreciate and look forward to what the New Year may bring.

But there is one surprise I’d rather not have – wondering what North Korea might do next.

Ploughshares Fund extends its most heartfelt congratulations to Zia Mian of Princeton University on receiving the 2014 Linus Pauling Legacy Award

Some anniversaries are bittersweet.  This week marks the seven year anniversary of North Korea’s first nuclear test.

Co-authored by Paul Carroll and Ben Loehrke

Star Trek: Into Darkness is the latest in the decades-old Star Trek franchise. To date the film has grossed nearly $160 million at the box office. Not bad for its first week. After all, it cost about $190 million to make, so it seems poised to break even very soon.

The debate over Syria’s possible use of chemical weapons has been dominating the headlines. Were deadly nerve agents used? If so by whom? Was the use intentional? These questions are important since President Obama has intimated that, if confirmed, the use of chemical weapons could change U.S. policy toward the Syrian civil war. The specifics of what the United States would do differently are unclear. What is clear, though, is that the use of chemical weapons characteristically changes the way we perceive the conflict. It is, as Obama stated, a “game changer.”

Some things never seem to change, sometimes to the detriment of the U.S. taxpayer. Allowing parochial interests to trump national ones is a Washington tradition that lives on. Case in point: this week Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) placed a “hold” on the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz, a well-respected MIT professor and former Undersecretary of Energy, to be the next head of the Department of Energy (DOE). The reason? The senator is concerned about administration plans to reduce the budget request for the plutonium fuel program at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina known as MOX.

Next week marks the second anniversary of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima reactors in Japan. Remember? The days and weeks we collectively crossed our fingers as heroic workers improvised and threw everything they could at melting reactors and damaged spent fuel pools to stave off disaster? Seems like a long time gone and Fukushima has, in our collective consciousness, faded into a historical nuclear footnote. “Close call,” we may think, “but the danger is over.”

Not quite. In fact, not even close.

It will be days or weeks before the world knows much about the nuclear test conducted by North Korea mid-day Tuesday local time in Pyongyang. What was its actual yield? What did it use – plutonium or highly enriched uranium, or some combination? Did it perform as expected? What will the international response be? Is this a game changer?