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SIPRI's 40th anniversary

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Personal Essays and SIPRI Yearbook Extracts


I first came to SIPRI in the late summer of 1980. I had been urged to apply by Arthur H. Westing, a former SIPRI researcher who had become Dean of Natural Sciences at Hampshire College, where I was a professor of physics and science policy. In 1977 I had published an article analysing the potential nuclear proliferation implications of the new technique of laser isotope separation. As my new Dean, Arthur saw this as a potentially productive topic for further research and suggested that I write a proposal for a one-year project at SIPRI. It was accepted and I spent the 1980-81 academic year at the Institute writing a book on uranium enrichment and nuclear weapon proliferation in collaboration with a group of researchers at Twente University of Technology in Enschede, the Netherlands. In the years since the book was published I have received many favourable comments on it. I am told it is still useful as a reference for work on uranium enrichment, and the work I did to write it was excellent preparation for my work on nuclear non-proliferation at the US State Department.

I enjoyed that year so much that I came back two years later (1983-84), this time accompanying my wife, who had received a Fulbright fellowship to study archaeology in Sweden. While she did research and attended seminars at the university I worked at SIPRI on another book, this one on the technology and politics of arms control verification. Research for this book included trips to Moscow and Washington to interview government and academic experts on verification, and SIPRI was generous in its support of these trips. During both years I was also encouraged to contribute to the SIPRI Yearbook, and all things considered those years were two of the most productive of my academic career. One pleasant memory is a complimentary note I received from Alva Myrdal on a chapter I wrote for the 1980 Yearbook.

Reflecting on the two years at SIPRI I have come to realize that there were good reasons for all that productivity, perhaps fi rst among them the exhilarating freedom I had to do what I wanted to do. I had no teaching or administrative responsibilities, and SIPRI provided superb support for my research and writing. In particular I remember the helpful people in the library, supportive and competent editors like Billie Bielckus, Connie Wall, Barbara Adams and Gillian Stanbridge, and other amazing support staff. I also remember my twice-weekly visits to the library at Studsvik, where I worked on the enrichment book. The staff there was also extremely helpful and made it possible for me to explore the full range of technical literature on isotope separation and uranium enrichment.

SIPRI building in Bergshamra, 1980 to 1995Allan S. Krass has fond memories of ice-skating across Brunnsviken to work at the building in Bergshamra, where SIPRI resided from 1980 to 1995

As much as I enjoyed the work at SIPRI, my family and I also enjoyed living in Sweden. I remember the wonderful group of colleagues I had to work with, including but not limited to Sverre Lodgaard, Bhupendra Jasani, Mikhail Nossov, Andrzej Karkoszka and David Barton. David and I met at SIPRI during my second stay and have remained good friends for more than 20 years. We both went on to work for the US Government, he in the Congress and I in the State Department, and we see each other often. I have long since forgiven him for beating me consistently and convincingly at tennis during our stay in Stockholm. I also recall SIPRI's daily 10am coffee, which frequently took on the aspects of a seminar. One of my most vivid recollections is the gathering on a morning in early November 1980 when I was called upon by my colleagues to explain how a movie actor could be elected President of the United States. I remember my explanation, but this is probably not the place to repeat it.

Finally, I remember the pleasure of living in Stockholm: the long summer days and the long winter nights, Saturday shopping in the market at Hötorget, swimming in Brunnsviken in the summer and ice skating on it in the winter. In particular I remember our first winter, in which from mid-December until almost the end of March I skated to work from our apartment in the Wenner-Gren Center to SIPRI, which was then situated at the north end of Brunnsviken. My family and I were able to travel often, cross-country skiing in the winter and to Nord- kap to see the midnight sun in summer. One memorable trip was a four-day visit in 1980 to Jokkmokk, about 3 kilometres from the Arctic Circle, during the winter solstice and Christmas.

All things considered, for work, for play, for travel and for cultural and academic enrichment, we feel that our two years spent in Stockholm were among the most productive and enjoyable of our lives.

Allan S. Krass was formerly a physical scientist with the Bureau of Non-Proliferation, US Department of State. He was a researcher at SIPRI from 1983 to 1984

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