NATO and Russia. North Korea and the United States. India and Pakistan. The United States and China. These tense international relationships share one thing in common: each has the potential to quickly worsen into military confrontation that could spark the use of nuclear weapons. Each is a Cuban Missile Crisis in the making.
Confronted for the first time with multiple flashpoints that could go nuclear with little or no warning, the world is in uncharted waters. To help steer us safely through these dangers, Global Zero launched the Nuclear Crisis Group, a crack team of top former nuclear commanders, diplomats, and national security experts who monitor these volatile situations and put forward actionable plans to defuse them — and prevent the use of nuclear weapons.
Łukasz Kulesa is a researcher at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM). His interests include non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Russian security policy, NATO, nuclear and conventional deterrence, the role of missile defence, and the future of arms control. Previously, he worked as the head of the non-proliferation and arms control project at PISM, and as deputy director of the Strategic Analyses Department at the National Security Bureau, a body providing aid and support to the President of the Republic of Poland in executing security and defence tasks.
Kulesa’s publications include: Towards a New Equilibrium: Minimising the risks of NATO and Russia’s new military posture, Dangerous Brinkmanship: Close Military Encounters Between Russia and the West in 2014, and Careful What You Wish For: Nuclear Reductions and Conventional Deterrence in Europe after Crimea.
Retired General Bernard Norlain is the president of the Comité d’Études de la Défense Nationale and director of the Revue Défense Nationale. Norlain is the former air defense commander and air combat commander of the French Air Force and has logged more than 6,000 hours of flight as a fighter pilot. He served as military adviser to French Prime Ministers Jacques Chirac and Michel Rocard. He was director of the French Institute for National Defense Studies, vice-president of Deloitte & Touche and chairman of the Sofema group.
Retired Major General Pan Zhenqiang is deputy chairman of the China Foundation for International Studies and Academic Changes, director of research at the Institute for Strategy and Management of the Central University of Finance and Economics in China and senior adviser to the China Reform Forum. Pan is also the former director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at National Defence University of China in Beijing.
Ambassador Thomas Pickering is a former U.S. diplomat who held the personal rank of career ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service. In a diplomatic career spanning five decades, he served as U.S. ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan. From 1989 to 1992, he served as ambassador and representative to the United Nations in New York. He speaks French, Spanish, Swahili, Arabic, and Hebrew.
Pickering is currently vice chair of Hills & Company, an international consulting firm providing advice to U.S. businesses on investment, trade and risk assessment issues abroad, particularly in emerging market economies. He retired in 2006 as senior vice president of international relations for Boeing.
Minister Paul Quilès has had an extensive career in public service, serving as the defense minister of France from 1985 to 1986, interior minister of France from 1992 to 1993 and chairman of the defense commission in the French National Assembly from 1997 to 2002. Quilès served as the deputy of Paris from 1978 to 1983 and again from 1986 to 1988, and as deputy of Tarn from 1993 to 2006. In addition, Quilès served as the director of Francois Mitterand’s presidential campaign. He is currently mayor of Cordes-sur-Ciel and is a member of Mayors for Peace, an organization promoting the solidarity of cities toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons. In 2016, he assisted in the creation of the Nuclear Disarmament Initiative (NDI) where he currently serves as president.
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar retired in September 2009 after nearly 45 years of service in the Indian Navy where he held the positions of commander in chief of the Andaman & Nicobar Command and commander in chief of the Strategic Forces Command. His afloat assignments include specialist tenures on board several fleet units between 1970 and 1983. He was a part of the commissioning crew of INS Ghorpad, commissioned in Poland, and of INS Rana commissioned in the Soviet Union. He also served as the commanding officer of INS Panaji in 1973, INS Himgiri in 1987, INS Ganga in 1993 and the Indian Navy’s only aircraft carrier, INS Viraat in 1995. He took over command of the ‘Sword Arm’ of the Indian Navy as the flag officer commanding Western Fleet in January 2003. His operational experience is backed by active service during the Indo-Pak war of 1971, command of INS Himgiri during Operation Pawan and as chief of staff, Southern Naval Command during Operation Vijay.
Dr. Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M. is founding partner and Canada chair of Global Zero and founder and president of The Simons Foundation, Vancouver, Canada, with a mission to advance positive change through education in peace, nuclear disarmament, international law and human security.
As an award-winning educator, thought leader and policy advisor, Simons and her foundation have supported major international initiatives, providing critical financial support, convening international leaders in policy dialogue and driving academic research. Her partnerships with other non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, the Government of Canada, international governments and the United Nations have made her an important and effective actor in the effort to address peace and disarmament. She is a member of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and the International Advisory Board of the Center for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament of Australian National University.
Simons was appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to the promotion of peace and disarmament and, among her many other awards and acknowledgements, was awarded both the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for her service to the global effort to eradicate landmines and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. She also received the 2006 Vancouver Citizens Peace Award.
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Jon Wolfsthal is Senior Advisor to Global Zero and director of the Nuclear Crisis Group. From 2014 to 2017, he served as special assistant to former U.S. president Barack Obama and senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Security Council. He has also served as special adviser to then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden for nuclear security and nonproliferation and as a director for nonproliferation on the National Security Council. He supported the Obama administration’s negotiation and ratification of the New START arms reduction agreement with the Russian Federation, and helped support the development of nuclear policy, including through the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.