Press the Button
A new episode of Press the Button is available every Tuesday.
An engaging podcast on nuclear policy and national security, Press the Button is co-hosted by defense experts Joe Cirincione and Michelle Dover of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. This weekly podcast features top officials and experts discussing the latest developments on Iran, North Korea, nuclear weapons, military budgets and foreign policy. Press the Button offers diverse views on one of the most important issues of our time: preventing nuclear war.
Listen to the latest episode, featuring former President of Ireland Mary Robinson and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
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.
- Listeners' Letters — Michelle asks Joe to answer questions sent in by our loyal listeners. No notes, no prep, Joe hears them for the first time when Michelle opens the envelope.
- The Interview — Joe and Michelle sit down with prominent thinkers, legislators, activists, and grantees working on nuclear weapons issues for a short, illuminating conversation.
We also have an occasional "In the Silo," a close-up look at key security issues and events with field recordings, music, media clips, and narration.
Listen to past episodes below:
How close is Iran to obtaining a nuclear weapon? Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, joins Joe Cirincione and Michelle Dover to debunk a few myths surrounding Iran and the bomb, and what 'breakout time' really means. Early Warning features our Roger L. Hale fellow Akshai Vikram and Andrey Baklitskiy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies discussing the future of US-Russia arms control and the role of nuclear weapons policy in the upcoming US presidential elections. Joe answers a question from Ariel in Maryland.
Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former ambassador to NATO, joins co-host Joe Cirincione for a discussion on how the next US president should think about nuclear weapons policy, and how the US can begin working toward a nuclear-free world. Early Warning features Ploughshares Fund policy director Tom Collina and Kate Kizer of Win Without War on escalating tensions between US and Iran, and how last week's events have made us less safe.
Joe Cirincione hosts a special crossover episode with The Bill Press Pod, a long-running program hosted by political commentator Bill Press. They take a deep dive into the national security crisis with Iran, and what lies ahead in the wake of Qasem Soleimani's killing.
This week's episode is dedicated to the spiraling national security crisis with Iran following the US killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Stephen Miles, the executive director of Win Without War, sits down with co-hosts Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione to discuss how the Trump administration's policy toward Iran has brought the US to the brink of a new war in the Middle East, and what can be done to prevent further escalation. Early Warning features our Nuclear Field Coordinator/Senior Program Officer John Carl Baker and Ariane Tabatabai of RAND Corporation analyzing the abysmal results of President Trump's 'maximum pressure' campaign that began with US abrogation of the Iran nuclear agreement, and how this may affect nuclear negotiations with North Korea.
A special year-end episode of Press the Button features co-hosts Joe Cirincione and Michelle Dover looking back at major nuclear policy and national security events during the 2010s, and what we can look forward to in the new decade.
Ambassador Susan Burk joins co-host Joe Cirincione for a discussion on the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Opened for signature in 1968, the treaty commits states to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to negotiate general and complete disarmament. Serving under President Barack Obama, Ambassador Burk was responsible for working with other states to strengthen the NPT and the international nonproliferation regime. Early Warning features Akshai Vikram and Allegra Harpootlian discussing the financial and environmental costs of US foreign policy, and how India is being transformed under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Joe and co-host Michelle Dover answer a question from Orion.
Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, joins co-host Joe Cirincione for an exclusive interview on global security, and how globalization and technological advancement exacerbate already serious dangers from nuclear weapons, cyber warfare, artificial intelligence and automated weapons. Early Warning features Erica Fein of Win Without War, and Geoffrey Wilson of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation discussing what went wrong for House Democrats during negotiations for the final National Defense Authorization Act, and the bombshell Washington Post report on the Afghanistan War.
Kate Folb, director of Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S), joins co-host Joe Cirincione to discuss HH&S's work linking screenwriters with the top experts on health, safety, and national security. Last year, Kate helped connect Joe with the producers of “Madam Secretary,” the hit CBS political drama, to walk the showrunners through what would happen if the White House believed the United States was under nuclear attack. Hollywood, Health & Society is a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. Early Warning features Ploughshares Fund's Senior Program Officer/Nuclear Field Coordinator John Carl Baker and Gabrielle Tarini of RAND Corporation. Joe answers a question from Sean.
Jeffrey Lewis, expert in nuclear nonproliferation and geopolitics, joins co-host Joe Cirincione for a wide-ranging discussion on national security, presidential authority, and how the next occupant of the White House should tackle nuclear policy issues. Early Warning features our director of policy Tom Collina and Roger L. Hale fellow Akshai Vikram discussing the ongoing protests in Iran and US nuclear policy, which currently allows the president absolute authority to launch nuclear weapons whenever they want, for whatever reason.
John Glaser and Chris Preble of the Cato Institute join co-host Joe Cirincione for a discussion on the Trump Administration's effect on US foreign policy, and what it means for the theory of American primacy that Glaser and Preble argue has guided US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Glaser and Preble are co-authors of Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America’s Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover). Early Warning features our director of policy Tom Collina, Roger L. Hale Fellow Akshai Vikram, and Catherine Killough of Women Cross DMZ analyzing exchanges on North Korea and Iran during last week's Democratic presidential debate.
Ambassador Laura Holgate joins co-host Michelle Dover to reflect on the one-year anniversary of Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, a leadership network co-founded by Holgate and Dover that aims to break down gender barriers and promote gender equality in the nuclear field. Early Warning features Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Nuclear Field Coordinator/Senior Program Officer John Carl Baker discussing the Trump administration's attempts to drive out long-time US State Department officials, Iran's latest breaches of the Iran nuclear agreement, and a recent report revealing that nearly 50 universities are involved in the research and design of US nuclear weapons. Joe Cirincione answers a question from Nick in Vancouver.
Tristan Guyette and Colleen Moore of Beyond the Bomb discuss their experiences organizing a nationwide mass movement to prevent nuclear war in an exclusive interview with Joe Cirincione. Early Warning features Press the Button co-host Michelle Dover, Ploughshares Fund Director of Policy Tom Collina, and Ariane Tabatabai of Columbia University on recent news that Iran has restarted uranium enrichment at its Fordow facility and the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Joe Cirincione answers a question from Kayvon in California.
Dr. Zia Mian joins co-host Michelle Dover for an in-depth discussion on the crisis in India and Pakistan, and whether or not the current nuclear order is worth saving. Dr. Mian is a physicist and co-director of the Program on Science and Global Security in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Early Warning features our Roger L. Hale fellow Akshai Vikram and Esther Im of the National Committee on North Korea discussing recent developments on North Korea and Iran.
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, presents an exclusive look at the future of US nuclear policy. He outlines the challenges that lie ahead for efforts to restart dialogue between the world's nuclear powers, stop the production of new nuclear weapons, and re-think the US nuclear posture review. Smith's remarks were taken from a special briefing on US nuclear policy hosted by Ploughshares Fund on October 23. Early Warning features Ploughshares Fund deputy director of policy Mary Kaszynski and Geoff Wilson of Council for a Livable World on the partisan fight behind the drafting and passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. Joe Cirincione answers a question from Mark in Massachusetts.
Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) gives us an insider view of the impeachment crisis and its impact on U.S. foreign policy. Connolly serves on the Foreign Affairs and the Oversight Committees, both charged with the impeachment inquiry. Early Warning features Joe Cirincione and Elizabeth Beavers discussing Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent comments on nuclear weapons, the 50 US nuclear weapons currently stationed in Turkey, and why we should keep the Open Skies Treaty. Joe Cirincione answers a question from Alec in Louisiana.
Heather Hurlburt, director of the New Models of Policy Change project at New America's Political Reform program, joins Michelle Dover for a discussion on US national security and foreign policy under President Donald Trump. She is the co-author of The Consensual Straitjacket: Four Decades of Women in Nuclear Security. News analysis with Michelle Dover, John Carl Baker and Geoff Wilson of Council for a Livable World focuses on the Trump administration's decision to withdraw US troops from the Turkey-Syria border. Joe Cirincione answers a question from Johnny from Massachusetts.
Emma Belcher, director of the Nuclear Challenges program at the MacArthur Foundation, joins Joe Cirincione for a discussion on the role that philanthropy plays in creating a safer, more secure world, and what the current arms race means for the fight against nuclear threats. News analysis with Ploughshares Fund Director of Policy Tom Collina, Roger L. Hale Fellow Akshai Vikram, and Erica Fein of Win Without War. Joe Cirincione answers a question from Mike from Virginia.
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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