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Keepin: Nonproliferation trailblazer

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By Roger Snodgrass

The “father of Los Alamos nuclear safeguards,” G. Robert Keepin, died Monday at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe. He was 84 years old.Born in 1923, he was the son of a preacher and those who knew him best have remarked on his unique role as an apostle of nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation.Nancy Jo Nicholas, Nuclear Nonproliferation (N) Division leader, said in an announcement by Los Alamos National Laboratory this morning that Keepin had inspired generations of Los Alamos staff.“We will miss him, and we will dedicate ourselves to continuing his vision of a safer world,” she said.Keepin received a doctoral degree at Northwestern University and served as a post-doc at the University of Minnesota and an Atomic Energy Agency Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.He came to Los Alamos in 1952, where he worked at the Critical Assemblies Group at the Pajarito Site and wrote the materials for a textbook, Physics of Nuclear Kinetics.“At the same time, he became fired up about the notion of safeguards and nonproliferation,” said a longtime friend and protg, Doug Reilly. “This was when the Nonproliferation Treaty was being put together and the International Atomic Energy Agency was a part of that.”Keepin was a delegate to the First United Nations Atoms for Peace Conference held in Geneva in 1955.