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Ex-Sandia Labs boss to discuss nuclear policy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For the first time in decades, an American president isn’t talking about trimming the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Former Sandia Labs president and director Jill Hruby

President Donald Trump is instead talking about introducing new capabilities to the nuclear stockpile, the former head of Sandia National Laboratories said in an interview with the Journal.

“The tone is very different from previous administrations,” said former Sandia Labs president and director Jill Hruby. “But the policy isn’t as different as the tone would indicate.”

Hruby, who led the Albuquerque-based national labs from July 2015 to May 2017, will discuss the Trump administration’s nuclear policy and how it may affect the behavior of other nuclear nation states during a talk hosted by the Albuquerque International Association on Friday.

Hruby said the modernization program started under the Obama administration is continuing under Trump.

“That created a strong workload for Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs,” she said. “With Trump giving the green light to new nuclear weapons capabilities, that means the labs will remain very well funded, and very active.”

That is on top of non-nuclear work Sandia is involved with via appropriations through the Department of Defense, she said. Both labs employ more than 11,000 people in New Mexico.

Hruby believes both labs should at least maintain those employment numbers, if not increase them, in the coming years.

“But Democratic control of the House could affect that,” she said.

Hruby, who spent 34 years at Sandia, now works at the Nuclear Threat Initiative as the Sam Nunn Distinguished Fellow, named for the former Georgia senator who is a co-founder and former chair of the organization. NTI, a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by Nunn and Ted Turner, works to prevent catastrophic attacks and accidents with weapons of mass destruction and disruption – nuclear, biological, radiological, chemical and cyber. Hruby splits her time between Albuquerque and Washington, D.C.

She engages in dialogue with India, China and Russia, also nuclear nation states, discussing potential collaboration on nuclear and cyber issues.

Hruby said that, during her talk, she will discuss how the U.S. nuclear policy is perceived by those nation-states. She will also discuss the impact of Russia’s nuclear capabilities and strategies.

During her career at Sandia, Hruby worked in nuclear weapons, nuclear non-proliferation, countering weapons of mass destruction, international security cooperation, homeland security, security system design, and renewable energy. Hruby serves on boards for the U.S. government, non-governmental organizations and universities. She is a consultant and adviser on national security issues, a spokesperson for women in science and technology, and a mentor for emerging leaders.