March 3, 2020

March 5 marks 50 years since the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which limited the spread of nuclear weapons around the globe, went into effect. Ushering in a new era of arms control required a skilled diplomatic dealmaker, and in Arnold Saltzman the United States had one. 

Saltzman graduated from Columbia College in 1936 with a degree in economics and government. He spent the next seven decades working in the private and public sectors, serving his country in five presidential administrations. In his public service, Saltzman held various roles as an economic adviser, and later as a special envoy to the former Soviet Union, bridging the gap between American businesses and newly formed governments. His crowning achievement, for which he received a presidential commendation, was his work helping to negotiate the NPT in Vienna in 1967–68.  

In 2003, SIPA’s Institute of War & Peace Studies—founded by President Eisenhower during his tenure as Columbia’s president—was renamed the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. Saltzman, who died in 2014 at the age of 97, also endowed two professorships at SIPA: the Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies, currently held by Richard Betts, and the Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, currently held by Edward Luck.

The NPT, which was indefinitely extended in 1995, endures despite the rise of nuclear powers who have refused to sign it (India, Israel, Pakistan) or withdrawn from it (North Korea). The UN is currently preparing to review the treaty in 2020.

— Daniel E. White MPA ’20