Double Jeopardy

From Belfer Center Studies in International Security

Double Jeopardy

Combating Nuclear Terror and Climate Change

By Daniel B. Poneman

Making the case that we can use nuclear power to combat climate change even as we reduce the risks of nuclear terror.





Making the case that we can use nuclear power to combat climate change even as we reduce the risks of nuclear terror.

Humanity faces two existential threats: nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change. Both have human origins, and both are linked to the use of nuclear energy. Inherent in the use of atomic fission is the risk that the technology and materials can be diverted to terrorists or hostile nations and used to make nuclear weapons. The key question is whether we can use nuclear energy to reduce the threat of climate change without increasing the risk that nuclear weapons will be used.

In Double Jeopardy, Daniel Poneman argues that the world needs an “all-of-the-above” energy policy, one that advances the goal of decarbonizing the environment through all available means—including nuclear power. Poneman makes a compelling case that we can enhance the ability of nuclear power to combat climate change even as we reduce the risks of nuclear terror. Doing so will require well-crafted laws and policies, implemented with an ethos of constant vigilance and embedded in a culture that weaves safety and security goals into the fabric of our nuclear programs. This will enable government and industry to work together to maximize energy and climate benefits while minimizing safety and security risks.


$27.95 T ISBN: 9780262037303 288 pp. | 6.125 in x 9.25 in 17 b&w illus.


  • Poneman says that there are two existential threats to human existence: climate change and nuclear proliferation and terrorism. The first, he argues, requires a greater investment in nuclear energy to reduce humanity's dependence on carbon fuels—but this, he notes, risks aggravating the second threat. So his recommendations address both threats together. He proposes shifting to lower-carbon energy sources, including nuclear power; fully implementing the Paris climate agreement; and, among other nonproliferation moves, eliminating the North Korean nuclear threat. It's a daunting list.

    Foreign Affairs


  • Nuclear weapons and climate change present very different but very significant global risks. Dan Poneman is one of the few who has worked at and contributed to mitigation of both risks and now has shared this experience through insightful analysis and commonsense recommendations. Double Jeopardy should be required reading for policymakers.

    Ernest J. Moniz

    former U.S. Secretary of Energy and CEO, Nuclear Threat Initiative

  • Double Jeopardy is a must-read for anyone who cares about the world our grandchildren will inherit. Dan Poneman shows us how we can address the two greatest threats to our long-term future—at the same time. Brilliant!

    Susan Eisenhower

    member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future

  • Dan Poneman has done what very few have even tried, and what no one has actually succeeded in doing—to persuade almost everyone along the long ideological spectrum that the issues of climate change and nuclear power are inextricably connected. There will be no addressing the former without the latter. Read this book. If it will not change your mind, then at least it will change your approach. Very few authors can do that. Poneman has.

    Hugh Hewitt

    host, The Hugh Hewitt Show, and Professor, Chapman University School of Law

  • In this insightful and useful book, Dan Poneman explores the two great existential threats that we face: nuclear annihilation and climate change. He provides not just convincing analysis but also some clear and crisp proposed solutions. In a time of muddled thinking, this book is urgently needed.

    Walter Isaacson

    Professor of History, Tulane University, and former president and CEO, Aspen Institute

  • Presidents of both parties have relied upon Dan Poneman's wise counsel on matters of global nuclear and energy security. In this important book, Dan outlines a rationale and a roadmap for reinvigorating America's nuclear leadership, which is indispensable to protecting our planet and all who live here.

    Sam Nunn

    former U.S. Senator and Co-Chair, Nuclear Threat Initiative

  • In Double Jeopardy, Dan Poneman draws on his extensive experience as both a policymaker and a businessman to make a compelling case for how nuclear energy can help address one of the world's most pressing problems—climate change—without inviting nuclear catastrophe. This thoughtful, well-researched, and highly readable book is a cry for, and a roadmap to, the reestablishment of American leadership in a key industry that has implications far beyond the realm of energy.

    Meghan O'Sullivan

    Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

  • Nuclear proliferation and climate change are two of the most vexing challenges facing humanity. Dan Poneman is an expert on both subjects. His clearly written, urgent call to action brings these two vitally important issues together in a novel and highly informative way.

    Henry Paulson

    former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman, Paulson Institute

  • In clear and simple prose, Double Jeopardy tackles two of the toughest challenges of our time: nuclear proliferation and climate change. Poneman has served his nation well under both Republican and Democrat presidents, and the solutions he recommends have the staying power that only bipartisanship can produce.

    Brent Scowcroft

    former U.S. National Security Advisor

  • Daniel Poneman draws upon his great knowledge of and experience with nuclear power—as a policymaker and scholar and in the private sector—to demonstrate the key role it can play in meeting energy and environmental objectives and how, at the same time, to assure nuclear security on a global basis.

    Daniel Yergin

    Vice Chairman of IHS Markit and author of The Prize and The Quest