The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk is hosting a public lecture by Professor Benoît Pelopidas (Founding director of the Nuclear Knowledges program at Sciences Po) on 14th June at 5.30pm in the Runcie Room, Faculty of Divinity.

Professor Benoît Pelopidas is the founding director of the Nuclear Knowledges program (formerly chair of excellence in security studies) at Sciences Po (CERI). His program, “Nuclear Knowledges”, is the first independent scholarly research program on the nuclear phenomenon in France. He is also an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University.

His research has received four international prizes and the most prestigious European grants based on scholarly assessment by peers, most notably an ERC Starting Grant. This interdisciplinary effort of independent scholarship has led to the following discoveries over the last five years: the lack of credibility and rationality of the French nuclear arsenal at least until 1974; the underestimation of the effects of French nuclear weapons tests in Polynesia; the role of luck in the past avoidance of unwanted nuclear explosions; the limits of popular support for nuclear weapons policy, the role of nostalgia and imagined futures in shaping nuclear weapons politics and the effects of funding carrying conflicts of interests on nuclear weapons policy analysis.


The global nuclear order that comprises nuclear deterrence, nonproliferation, and disarmament is often viewed as discriminatory and increasingly castigated as unjust. Few states got to develop and deploy nuclear weapons in the name of their own security and that of their allies. Most are prohibited from doing so by the international nonproliferation regime. All stand to lose if a nuclear exchange takes place. Russia’s war against Ukraine underscored the inequities and injustices in the global nuclear order built on hierarchical spheres of (in)security. How to define injustice in nuclear affairs? How sustainable is an unjust global nuclear order? At what cost can it be maintained in its present form, and how can it be long tolerated by the future generations? The panel brings together scholars to critically reflect on past, ongoing, and future nuclear injustices – in the context of the war in Ukraine and beyond – to assess the main tensions and pave the way for a research agenda beyond the usual boundaries of the nuclear policy field and community.

More informations


Interview with Dr Emmanuel Kattan, director of the Alliance program at Columbia University, "vis-à-vis" pocast

Nuclear Proliferation, Close Calls, and Luck.


The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, September 6, 2022, moderated by Prof. William C. Potter


by Dr Emma Belcher for The Button, from the Ploughshares Fund, March 1, 2022. 



  • Dr. Carol Cohn, Founding Director, Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights 
  • Dr. Benoît Pelopidas, Director, Nuclear Knowledges, Sciences Po 
  • Dr. Jayita Sarkar, Founding Director, Global Decolonization Initiative, Boston University 


  • Dr. Mariana Budjeryn, Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom 

Nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors are designed, built, deployed, and managed—with intention and purpose—by human beings embedded in and shaped by institutional, social, and political contexts. These contexts affect how people interpret and respond to the benefits and dangers of nuclear technologies. But whose interpretations and modes of reasoning count as authoritative, competent, and trustworthy—and whose are discounted or dismissed? How did the existing nuclear hierarchies of knowledge and practice come into being? What threats and opportunities are inherent in expanding and diversifying the intellectual, institutional, and regional engagements with the nuclear threat, and what are the barriers to such expansion? The panel brings together an international group of scholars to debate these questions from various vantage points: language, intellectual and institutional history, and colonial legacy.


Dans le cadre du séminaire de Nuclear Knowledges - Chaire d’excellence en études de sécurité.

"The Courtroom of World Opinion": Bringing the International Audience into Nuclear Crises

Debak Das, PhD candidate, Cornell University

What role does the international audience play in moderating nuclear crises? Scholars of nuclear crises and deterrence have treated nuclear crises as dyadic interactions between two sides. However, states do not only interact with each other during a nuclear crisis. They also signal to a third actor – the international audience. Two related reasons explain this. First, states care about their international reputation and want to be perceived as a ‘good community member’. Second, there are material benefits to states maintaining a good reputation with the international audience, which possesses the leverage to condemn and sanction. States thus attempt to leverage this power of the international audience to apply diplomatic pressure on their adversary during nuclear crises. They also engage in costly signaling and strategic restraint to ensure that the international audience considers its actions legitimate during the crisis. Empirical evidence from the Kargil war (the only instance of a war fought between two nuclear states), the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the 1969 Ussuri Crisis between the Soviet Union and China support this conclusion. Incorporating the international audience as a critical third actor during nuclear crises has important academic and policy implications for the study of nuclear crises and their management.

Benoît Pelopidas, Sciences Po-CERI, Nuclear Knowledges
Thomas Lindemann, Université de Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines et Ecole Polytechnique

Les présentations seront données en anglais, cependant les questions en français seront également les bienvenues.

Responsable scientifique : Benoît Pelopidas, Sciences Po-CERI.
Retrouvez les actualités de la Chaire sur Twitter : @NKnowledges


Le programme Nuclear Knowledges - Chaire d’excellence en études de sécurité, en partenariat avec l'IDDRI présente la première séance du séminaire mensuel de l'automne 2018.

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2018: présentation publique et discussion

The Nuclear Knowledges program in collaboration with IDDRI, presents the first monthly seminar of the Fall 2018.

"World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2018: public presentation and discussion"

Présidence et animation de la séance: Benoit Pelopidas, Sciences Po-CERI, fondateur du programme Nuclear Knowledges

Intervenants :
Mycle Schneider, consultant indépendant, coordinateur du World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2018
Dr Phil Johnstone, Université du Sussex, co-auteur du chapitre sur les interdépendances entre les infrastructures du nucléaire civil et militaire.

La séance sera conduite en anglais mais les questions en français sont les bienvenues.

Responsable scientifique : Benoit Pelopidas, Sciences Po-CERI

Rapport en haute résolution: https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/IMG/pdf/20180902wnisr2018-hr.pdf
Faits marquants en Français: https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/IMG/pdf/resume_fr_2018_web.pdf



Voir le programme

Benoît Pelopidas, Nuclear Knowledges : « Introduction »

Fabricio Mendes Fialho, postdoctoral research fellow, Nuclear Knowledges

Brian Rathbun (University of Southern California): « Greater Good, Lesser Evil?: Morality and Attitudes Towards the Use of Nuclear Weapons. »

Michal Smetana, Assistant professor, Peace Research Center, Prague (with Marek Vranka, on skype) « Moral Foundations of Nuclear and Chemical Weapons “Taboo” - Evidence from an Experimental Survey »

Fabricio Mendes Fialho, postdoctoral research fellow, Nuclear Knowledges : comments on the two papers and authors’ response

Benoît Pelopidas, Nuclear Knowledges : brief comments on the two papers

Brian Rathbun and Michal Smetana : replies to the discussants and Q&A

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