Press the Button
Listen and subscribe to Press the Button, a weekly podcast from Ploughshares Fund dedicated to nuclear policy and national security. A new episode is available every Tuesday.
An engaging and dynamic look at one of the most critical issues of our time, Press the Button offers the latest news, insider interviews and in-depth perspectives on nuclear policy and national security. Hosted by Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione and director of programs Michelle Dover, Press the Button features exclusive interviews with grantees, experts, former and current elected officials, and influential voices working to build a safer, more secure world.
Listen to a recent episode featuring Emma Belcher, director of the Nuclear Challenges program at the MacArthur Foundation:
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Press the Button is presented in 3 segments:
- Early Warning — a round-up of the most pressing nuclear news in 7 minutes, roughly the same amount of time the US president has to authorize a nuclear weapons launch in the event of an incoming attack on the United States.
- The Interview — Joe Cirincione sits down with prominent thinkers, legislators, activists, and grantees working on nuclear weapons issues for a short, illuminating conversation.
- In the Silo — a monthly, close-up look at key nuclear issues and events around the world, utilizing field recordings, media clips, interviews, and extensive narration.
Have a question about nuclear policy or national security? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer your question on the podcast!
Listen to past episodes below:
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump last week. What does this mean for nuclear policy and national security? Ro Khanna, US Representative from California's 17th congressional district, joins Joe Cirincione for a special interview on the explosive allegations against the US president and the need to prevent a new war of choice during this time. Rep. Khanna, with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), introduced a bipartisan amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act to prevent federal funds from being used for any military force against Iran without congressional authorization. "In the Silo" provides an exclusive look at the August 6 protest in front of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, featuring narration by Ploughshares Fund Development Associate Elissa Karim. News summary with Mary Kaszynski, Joe Cirincione, and Abigail Stowe-Thurston of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Joe Cirincione answers a question from Susan in California.
John F. Tierney, former US Representative and current executive director of the Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, joins Joe Cirincione to discuss his work on the National Defense Authorization Act, and challenges the idea that US national security depends on ever-increasing defense spending. News summary with Mary Kaszynski, Joe Cirincione, and Michelle Dover. Joe Cirincione answers a question from Clair in Massachusetts.
A deep dive with into the firing of John Bolton, his record of failure, and how his core beliefs and worldview are deeply indicative of the way that Washington thinks about national security. Special Guest: Trita Parsi, Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. A special "In The Silo” features a behind the scenes look at Chain Reaction 2019, Ploughshares Fund’s annual fundraising gala. This year featured a tribute to Lew Butler, the founding Chair of the Board of Directors. News summary with Mary Kaszynski, Joe Cirincione, and Michelle Dover. Joe answers a question from Ben in Scotland.
Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), joins Joe Cirincione to discuss Chinese and Russian nuclear modernization plans, and the state of nuclear arsenals around the world. Leon Ratz, a senior program officer with the Nuclear Threat Initiative's Materials Risk Management program, joins Early Warning to discuss Iran's latest announcement about its nuclear program, Russia's plans to produce new cruise missiles, and Congress's return to Washington. Joe Cirincione and Michelle Dover answer a question from Gerrard on how citizens can influence their leaders to support nuclear weapons prohibition.
Barbara Slavin, Director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council and columnist for Al-Monitor, joins Joe Cirincione to discuss increasing tensions in the Middle East and the effects of Trump administration's 'maximum pressure' campaign toward Iran. Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with Joe Cirincione and Ploughshares Fund Director of Policy Tom Collina on the anniversary of the USSR's first nuclear test. Also, Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione answer a question from Patrick about who in the US government is taking current nuclear weapons risks seriously.
Lynn Rusten, Vice President of the Global Nuclear Policy Program at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss the history of arms control between the United States and Russia, and how the Trump administration's actions have put the New START treaty in danger. Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Roger L. Hale Fellow Catherine Killough and Matt Korda, Research Associate at the Federation of American Scientists. Also, Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione answer a question from Henry about US-North Korea relations.
William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss the corporate connection to US arms sales abroad, and whether or not companies manufacturing weapons of war should bear responsibility for the casualties incurred as a result of their use. Joe Cirincione hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Jessica Lee, Senior Director at Council of Korean Americans. Also, Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione answer a question from Melissa about the differences in US policy toward Iran and North Korea.
Robert Malley, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss the current situation in Iran, which he sees as a 21st century 'Guns of August.' Robert served in the Obama administration as Special Assistant to the President, Senior Adviser to the President for the Counter-ISIL Campaign, and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region. Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Jessica Sleight, Program Director at Global Zero.
74 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a special episode of Press the Button analyzes the events and rationale that led to the only instances of nuclear weapons being used in combat. Using clips of recent interviews, Joe Cirincione takes a deeper look at the bombings, and what they mean in the context of modern-day calls to implement a ‘No First Use’ policy that would make it the official policy of the United States to never start a nuclear war. Also, Early Warning nuclear news analysis with Joe, Michelle Dover, and Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association.
Award-winning director and artist Smriti Keshari discusses the bomb, a critically-acclaimed multimedia experience she directed and produced with Ploughshares Fund Board Member Eric Schlosser. "In The Silo" explores Bombshelltoe, an interactive collection of images and narratives curated by Lovely Umayam, a Fellow with Stimson Center's Nuclear Security Program. Bombshelltoe explores how nuclear issues are connected to society’s most pressing conversations by combining nuclear expertise and artistic expression, highlighting the humanity in nuclear policy to resonate with people who currently feel disengaged. Also: nuclear news analysis with our deputy policy director Mary Kaszynski and Daniel Wertz, Program Manager at the National Committee on North Korea.
Alex Wellerstein is a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology and the creator of NUKEMAP, an interactive map that calculates the effects of the detonation of a nuclear bomb. He joins Joe Cirincione for a special interview on the history of nuclear weapons, deterrence theory, and why we never really left the 'first' nuclear age. Ploughshares Fund Programs Director Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with our policy director Tom Collina and special guest Caroline Dorminey, policy director at Women's Action for New Directions (WAND). They discuss Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker, nuclear weapons spending within the context of upcoming negotiations on the US government budget and debt ceiling, and the recent passing of Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Suzanne DiMaggio, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Chair of the Board at the soon-to-be-launched Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss her view of the slow-building crisis in Iran, what Republicans and Democrats get wrong about nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, and her reasons for joining the Quincy Institute, a new think-tank that aims to move US foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace. Ploughshares Fund Programs Director Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Women's Initiative grantee Abigail Stowe-Thurston, and Ploughshares Fund Director of Policy Tom Collina. They discuss the House of Representatives' recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, and an event commemorating the anniversary of the partial meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Lab attended by Kim and Kourtney Kardashian.
US Representative from Maryland Anthony G. Brown sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss his experiences in the US military, congressional efforts to prevent new wars, and what inspires him as an elected official. Ploughshares Fund Programs Director Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with Deputy Policy Director Mary Kaszynski and Roger L. Hale Fellow Catherine Killough. They discuss Iran’s recent breach of the Iran nuclear agreement, the Department of Energy’s order to start making 50 plutonium pits per year at the Savannah River Site, and Russia’s official withdrawal from the INF Treaty.
Jon Wolfsthal, director of the Nuclear Crisis Group and former special assistant to President Barack Obama, joins Joe Cirincione for a special in-depth interview. Jon discusses his experiences working on US nuclear policy as Senior Director for Arms Control and Nonproliferation at the National Security Council during the Obama administration, and what lessons the next US president should learn from both Obama and President Donald Trump's approaches to nuclear policy. Also: Early Warning nuclear news analysis with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Roger L. Hale Fellow Catherine Killough.
Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, anti-war activist and former US military analyst famous for releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, joins Joe Cirincione for a rare in-depth interview. Daniel discusses what he learned about US nuclear strategy during his time working at the RAND Corporation and the Pentagon, the use of deterrence theory to justify current nuclear arsenals, and the morality of threatening nuclear war. Also: Early Warning nuclear news analysis with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Roger L. Hale Fellow Catherine Killough.
Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama and current co-host of Pod Save The World, joins Joe Cirincione for a rare in-depth interview. Ben reflects on successes and setbacks of the Obama Administration’s nuclear policy and how these lessons learned can help guide the next administration to develop and implement a new, saner nuclear policy. Also: Early Warning nuclear news analysis hosted by Ploughshares Fund Program Director Michelle Dover with guest analysts Erica Fein of Win Without War and Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski.
Donté Stallworth, a retired NFL wide receiver who now dedicates himself to exploring issues of national security joins Joe Cirincione for an in-depth conversation. They discuss US-Iran tensions, the Trump administration’s online attacks on private citizens, and ideas for saner nuclear policy. Also: Early Warning nuclear news analysis with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Senior Program Officer John Carl Baker.
Eric Schlosser – an investigative journalist, author and filmmaker – examines strategies for saner nuclear policy, the fallibility of our nuclear command and control system and how deterrence works… until it doesn’t. Schlosser will be a guest speaker at "Chain Reaction 2019: A New Moment," the Ploughshares Fund June 10 gala in San Francisco. Also: Early Warning weekly nuclear news analysis with Michelle Dover and Mary Kaszynski.
Beatrice Fihn of Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in discussion with Joe Cirincione. They explore the humanitarian narrative around nuclear weapons and the basic belief of why it shouldn’t be legal to wipe out an entire city. Fihn will be keynote speaker at “Chain Reaction 2019: A New Moment,” the Ploughshares Fund June 10 gala in San Francisco. Also: Early Warning nuclear news analysis with Michelle Dover, John Carl Baker and Catherine Killough.
US Senator from Maryland Chris Van Hollen sits down with Joe Cirincione to share his insights on the current crisis in Iran, the future of arms control and the dangerous fiction of winning "small nuclear wars." Ploughshares Fund Programs Director Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with guest analysis from Erica Fein of Win Without War and Ploughshares Fund Deputy Policy Director Mary Kaszynski. They discuss escalating tensions in Iran, the mounting cleanup cost of Manhattan Project-era sites – and just saying no to "gateway nukes."
This episode is dedicated to the fast-developing twin crises in Iran and North Korea. Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman shares her thoughts on National Security Advisor John Bolton's campaign to provoke Iran. Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association, joins Early Warning as a guest analyst. She is a leading expert on nuclear and missile programs in Iran. Roger L. Hale Fellow Catherine Killough discusses North Korea's most recent missile tests.
Maggie Feldman-Piltch of #NatSecGirlSquad on why diversity and inclusion are key elements of the national security and defense discussion. Development Director Elizabeth Warner takes us behind the scenes for our #NukesOfHollywood panel that included Academy Award-winning actor Michael Douglas, Deputy National Security Advisor for Obama Ben Rhodes, Congressman Ted Lieu, activist Yasmeen Silva and nuclear expert Kennette Benedict. Also: nuclear news analysis with Michelle Dover and Mary Kaszynski.
LobeLog article by Joe Cirincione and Mary Kaszynski: https://lobelog.com/the-path-to-war-with-iran-is-paved-with-sanctions/
Leah Greenberg, co-founder of Indivisible and one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2019, discusses her journey from congressional staffer to community organizer. Greenberg talks about how the idea for a 2016 handbook, “Indivisible: A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda,” ignited a progressive movement of civic engagement for everyday people. And in Early Warning: Ploughshares Fund Program Director Michelle Dover reflects on the legacy of Indiana Senator and non-proliferation champion Richard Lugar. Nuclear Field Coordinator and Senior Program Officer John Carl Baker takes a closer look at the motives and intentions of Trump’s offer for arms control talks with Russia and China.
Ned Price, former spokesperson for President Obama’s National Security Council and current Director of Communications and Policy with National Security Action is our special guest. Price sits down with host Joe Cirincione to discuss the importance of re-entering the Iran Deal, why 2020 presidential candidates should share their alternative visions on national security, and a look at President Trump’s missed opportunity at the North Korea-United States Hanoi Summit. Also: this week’s nuclear news analysis with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Nuclear Field Coordinator and Senior Program Officer John Carl Baker.
Debut episode: Host Joe Cirincione sits down for an in-depth conversation with Dr. Carol Cohn, founding director of the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights. Dr. Cohn explores the distinction between gendered ideas and gendered people – and discusses how vulnerability is an inevitable part of the human condition. Our “In The Silo” segment takes you behind the scenes of the annual setting of the Doomsday Clock and shows how Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists brief leading members of congress on Capitol Hill. Plus: Early Warning – nuclear news analysis from Ploughshares Fund Program Director Michelle Dover and Roger L. Hale Fellow Catherine Killough
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