By Emilio Luciano Cricchio
Areg Danagoulian, a nuclear scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been named 2019 Arms Control Person of the Year.
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.”
This year’s nominees included French President Emmanuel Macron as well as US Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
Danagoulian and his colleagues were nominated for developing 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.
“This innovation paves the way for more effective arms control agreements, inspections, and enforcement. Professor Danagoulian’s MIT team has brought the best science to arms control and provided a creative solution that can reduce nuclear threats and enhance security,” said Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association.
Danagoulian was born in Soviet Armenia before migrating with his family to the US, and is the first Armenian to be nominated for the prestigious award.