Martz named Perry Fellow at Stanford

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LANL weapons designer to teach and develop ideas on deterrenc

By Roger Snodgrass

A key member of the brain trust of Los Alamos National Laboratory has gone back to school.  

Joe Martz has been named the inaugural William J. Perry Fellow in International Security at Stanford University. The university established the fellowship in 2007 in honor of William Perry, defense secretary in the Clinton Administration and co-director of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation along with former LANL Director Siegfried Hecker.

In a telephone interview this week, Martz said the fellowship started Oct. 1 and was an educational opportunity in both directions.

“I just taught a course on nuclear weapons history at the invitation of Perry and Hecker,” he said. “I’ve landed in a dream assignment. Not only have I had fantastic opportunities at the laboratory over 20 years now, I can add to that the opportunity to learn from some top people.”

In a statement announcing the selection, Hecker said the scholarship would further CISAC’s work in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

“Your background in understanding the configuration, manufacturing, design and certification of nuclear systems that support deterrence and the accompanying weapons complex is of timely relevance to the evolving policies in these

areas,” Hecker wrote. “Of particular interest is your evaluation of the elements of agility and confidence of the weapons complex and nuclear stockpile that will facilitate further reductions in nuclear weapons and what effect these may have on international control initiatives.”

The fellowship is awarded to an early or mid-career researcher, who is among other things, “dedicated to solving international security problems.

At the age of 44, Martz has been centrally engaged in LANL’s nuclear weapons mission in recent years, most recently as a senior staff advisor leading teams and special projects in weapons planning, deterrence theory, intelligence and complex transformation.

Before that, he managed a project that investigated the aging of nuclear weapons components, including plutonium, an ongoing study that continues to have important policy implications from weapons to arms control.

From 2005 through 2007, he led a team of several hundred people who developed New Mexico’s design for a Reliable Replacement Warhead, which lost out to the California submission, before congressional support for the concept began to wane.

He took on a public role during a period of national debate about the transformation of the nuclear weapons complex in 2008.

During this time, he refined and advanced a conceptual rationale for reducing the size of the weapons stockpile by relying on a high level of scientific and technical capability to produce nuclear weapons on short notice.

It is this idea of a capabilities-based deterrence that Martz said he wants to dig into during his time at Stanford.

“I want to be specific about those elements of agility and competence,” he said. “For example, what time frame would you need to respond to be able to convince your enemies that this is a credible deterrence? How would it look to one’s allies and to the rest of the world?”

One of Martz’s long-time colleagues and continuing collaborator in a plutonium aging study, LANL Fellow David L. Clark said in an interview on Friday that Martz would be a hit on campus, because of how articulate he is and because of his “infectious enthusiasm.”

“He has always been passionate and driven to evaluate what it would take to actually get to a stockpile of 100 warheads or less in this country,” Clark said. “That’s going to require an increase in our understanding of plutonium and other weapons materials.”

Martz has the ability to speak off the cuff on complex subjects, Clark said, “He does it all the time. He blows me away.”

Martz said he would be working on a book or at least a publishable manuscript during his tenure. Speaking of accomplished people in the Stanford environment, he mentioned that Phillip Taubman, veteran national security reporter and former Washington bureau chief for the New York Times, had an office next door, where he was working on a book on arms control.