Press the Button

Listen and subscribe to Press the Button, a weekly podcast from Ploughshares Fund dedicated to nuclear policy and national security. 

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, 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 Suzanne DiMaggio, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

Press the Button is avaliable on 

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.

Listen to past episodes below:

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

To stay updated on the latest episode of Press the Button and our work to build a safer, more secure world, sign up for our newsletter below.