Charles Norton Van Doren, a former senior U.S. government official and lifelong advocate for the control of nuclear weapons, died Aug. 23 in Washington, D.C., at the age of 84. Van Doren was born in New Jersey and attended Harvard University for two years before leaving to serve in the Army during World War II. After learning of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Van Doren decided to spend his career preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. In 1962 he joined the newly created Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). He eventually became the ACDA’s assistant director, working on the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Van Doren retired from the Department of State in 1981. An opponent of nuclear testing, he was adamantly against the Reagan administration’s policy of continued tests. During his retirement, Van Doren taught seminars on nuclear energy at Georgetown Law School and contributed book chapters and articles to the nonproliferation field. He wrote a 1981 report for the Arms Control Association criticizing the Israeli strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, lamenting that military strikes would not curb proliferation.