By Mark Dovich
On December 12, the Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that is dedicated to promoting public understanding of effective arms control policies, nominated Areg Danagoulian, a nuclear scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his colleagues for the prestigious 2019 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year award.
The Arms Control Association nominates individuals and institutions for the award based on their efforts to “advance effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions” or to “raise awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.” Though past nominees and winners include U.S. and foreign legislators, politicians, and diplomats, Danagoulian, who was born in Soviet Armenia before emigrating with his family to the U.S., is the first Armenian to be nominated for the award.
Danagoulian and his colleagues were nominated as a result of their development of an innovative nuclear disarmament verification process that makes use of neutron beams. According to Danagoulian, parties to nuclear disarmament treaties often disarm nuclear missile and bomb delivery systems rather than actually destroying them, meaning that many nuclear weapons stockpiles worldwide remain vulnerable to attack, theft, or accidental detonation. The neutron beam test addresses this tendency by allowing inspectors to confirm the authenticity and identity of a given warhead before its disassembly.
The winner of the Arms Control Person(s) of the Year award is chosen by a system of online voting. In recent years, more than 2,500 individuals from over 90 countries have participated in the voting process. Voting for the 2019 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year will take place between December 12, 2019 and January 8, 2020, with the result to be announced on January 10, 2020. Readers can support Danagoulian and his colleagues’ candidacy by voting through the Arms Control Association’s online system.