Posts Tagged NPTS

Students Participate in UN Negotiations as Members of National Delegations


MIIS at the UN: (l-r) Benjamin Pack, Thomas Gray, Aoi Sato, Dr. Bill Potter, Andrew Brown, Amanda Moodie and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova

For generations of Monterey Institute students, the semester-long NPT simulation course has been a life-changing experience.  Led by Dr. Bill Potter, Director of the Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), the class is devoted to a simulation of upcoming negotiations on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or NPT.  Students prepare for and participate in the simulated negotiations as members of different national delegations, often joined by visiting current or former lead negotiators.  At the 2014 NPT Preparatory Committee Meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, dozens of Monterey Institute faculty, alumni, staff, and students participated in the official negotiations. 

Current students in the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program, Thomas Gray (MANPTS ’15), Benjamin Pack (MANPTS ’14) participated in the negotiations as part of the Chilean delegation, and Andrew Brown (MANPTS ’15) as part of the U.S. delegation.  Dr. Potter himself also served as technical advisor to the Kyrgyz delegation and in total, MIIS/CNS alumni and current students and staff accounted for 20 delegates from 13 nations and 2 international organizations.

“First, I learned that international diplomacy moves at a glacial pace,” says Thomas Gray, describing his experience at UN.  “After the simulation class, I was ready to discuss the issues and the national positions, but I was not ready for how slowly everything moves in the real world, compared to how fast the simulation seemed. Secondly, and I think more importantly, I realized that the ‘MIIS mafia’ is real. It was great to make those connections, not only in terms of networking, but also in reminding me that MIIS people do go on to some really awesome jobs after graduation.” 

In this week’s edition of The MIIS Experience in 60 Seconds, Thomas talks about Dr. Potter’s simulation class. 

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Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine to Lecture on Russian Power Diplomacy at MIIS on March 24


Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer will speak at the Monterey Institute on March 24.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer, currently director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the Brookings Institute, will give a public lecture on "Russian Power Diplomacy and Eurasian Intergration" in the Monterey Institute’s Irvine Auditorium at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 24.

Ambassador Pifer is a senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. Pifer's career as a foreign service officer centered on Europe, the former Soviet Union and arms control. Pifer also had postings in London, Moscow, Geneva and Warsaw, as well as on the National Security Council. At Brookings, Pifer focuses on arms control, Ukraine and Russia issues.

This lecture is free and open to the public, and is part of the Monterey Institute's spring 2014 Colloquium on Economic Statecraft and Diplomacy.

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“Terrorism and Counterterrorism in Africa” the Focus of Second Annual MonTREP conference

MonTREP Students

Student volunteers and participants enjoy a break during the MonTREP conference.

The Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program at the Monterey Institute hosted its second annual student-driven conference on March 6-7. This year the focus was on terrorism and counter-terrorism in Africa with several panel discussions with noted experts in the field as well as students, and a keynote address by former Congressman Jim Kolbe.

The conference is organized by a group of students from the Institute’s graduate program in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, with academic supervision and support from Brig. General Russ Howard, director of MonTREP, and financial support from the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, the Lynde and Harry Bradly Foundation, McGraw Hill Publishing and the Monterey Institute.

Over a hundred people participated in the conference, held at the Institute’s Irvine Auditorium. On Thursday, March 6, five Monterey Institute students presented on a student panel moderated by Colonel Danial Pick. On Friday, March 7, Brig. Gen. Howard kicked off the conference, which started with a panel discussion on “Terrorism in Africa: a Regional Perspective” before moving on to a discussion about “Counterterrorism in Africa: a Whole of Government Approach.” After lunch there was a Monterey Threat Analysis Platform (MTAP) demonstration before the discussion turned to “Illicit Trafficking in Africa.” The conference ended with a closing keynote address by former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe. The student organizers all agreed that the conference was exceeding expectations and that it was a great learning experience.

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Senior Diplomats Participate in NPT Negotiation Simulation Class

Arms Control Simulation Course

Former U.S. Ambassador Susan Burk and Chilean Ambassador Alfredo Labbe participating with students in this fall’s arms control simulation course at the Monterey Institute.

Dr. William Potter, director of the Monterey Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), has pioneered the use of simulations as a tool for teaching students the intricacies of international arms control negotiations. Although many senior diplomats, including foreign ministers, have met with students in his classes at the Institute, this fall was the first time a former head of state participated in the course, and two ambassadors actually played themselves in a simulation of the 2014 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting.

Former Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva (see our story from 9/20/13) addressed student negotiators at the opening of the mock NPT PrepCom in September 2013, and Chilean Ambassador to International Organizations in Vienna Alfredo Labbe and former U.S. Nonproliferation Ambassador Susan Burk joined Chilean and U.S. delegations in November for hours of intense negotiations related to nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The engagement of these experienced diplomats added tremendous realism to the simulation and provided students with unusual insights about negotiating style and techniques. Austrian Ambassador Alexander Kmentt also spent a week in October with the student negotiators and shared his country’s perspectives on a number of new disarmament initiatives under review in the class and in the “real world.” The simulation course is offered through the Institute's unique Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program.

Thanks in part to their unusual classroom experiences, many Monterey Institute simulation alumni have moved quickly from student negotiators to representatives of their countries in arms control negotiations in Geneva, Vienna, and New York. At the 2013 NPT PrepCom in Geneva, for example, over two dozen past and present Institute students and CNS staff and visiting fellows served as members of national and international organization delegations, including those of Burkina Faso, China, Chile, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Peru, Romania, the Russian Federation, and the United States.

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MIIS Professor Releases Materials Shedding New Light on Israel’s Nuclear Decision-Making During Yom Kippur War


Professor Avner Cohen, director of the Nonproliferation Education Program at the Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

Dr. Avner Cohen, professor of nonproliferation studies at the Monterey Institute and a noted scholar of Israel’s nuclear program, today released several items from his personal research archive that offer fresh new insights into Israel’s decision not to use nuclear weapons during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. 

The key item in this release is a video interview with the late Azarayahu ‘Sini’ Arnan, former senior advisor in the Israeli government, who provides a dramatic eyewitness description of a closed-door ministerial consultation in which Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir overruled Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, halting preparations to ready the country’s nuclear weapons for a possible demonstration during the 1973 War. This interview upends conventional assumptions that Israel was very close to using nuclear weapons in this conflict (or even threatened to use nuclear weapons) and provides unique insight into how the Israeli government came to this decision.

Release of these materials coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War on October 6. The New York Times published an op-ed piece authored by Dr. Cohen on this topic on October 3. In addition to his faculty position with the Monterey Institute, Dr. Cohen is a senior fellow and director of the Nonproliferation Education Program at the Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

This release is the first installment in the “Avner Cohen Collection,” one of the most expansive personal collections of primary source material on the Israeli nuclear program. The collection is being released by the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. More materials, with accompanying analysis, will be released and announced in the coming years.


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Former President of Kyrgyz Republic Shares Democratic Transition Experience with MIIS Students

Dr. Rosa Otunbayeva

Dr. Rosa Otunbayeva, former president of the Kyrgyz Republic, speaks to Dr. William Potter’s popular Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) simulation class.

Students of Dr. William Potter’s popular Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty simulation course were treated to a unique opportunity this week to have an intimate discussion with Dr. Rosa Otunbayeva, the former president of the Kyrgyz Republic who led the first peaceful transition from an authoritarian to a parliamentary democracy in Central Asia. She also gave a public lecture titled “Obstacles to and Opportunities for Modernization in Central Asia” in the Institute’s Irvine Auditorium and answered questions from the audience, including students of the MIIS Russian Studies program.

Dr. Otunbayeva shared with Monterey Institute students her significant experience from serving as president from July 2010 through December 2011, and previously as leader of the opposition. Before her election to the Kyrgyz Parliament in 2007, she had a very impressive diplomatic career in the Soviet Foreign Service and working as the president of the Soviet National Commission of UNESCO. During 2002-2004 she was deputy head of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on a peacekeeping mission to Georgia, before returning to Kyrgyzstan to take an active role in democratic changes at home. She currently heads the “Initiative of Roza Otunbayeva” International Foundation.

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Syria Crisis Draws Media to Experts at Monterey Institute and Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Amy Smithson

Amy Smithson appeared on PBS Newshour discussing the situation in Syria on August 21, 2013.

The current, rapidly evolving Syria crisis has led U.S. and international news outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, CNN, Al Jazeera and Reuters to seek comments from the world’s foremost experts in chemical weapons, threat reduction mechanisms and nonproliferation—many of them found at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) and its James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). Below are some highlights of the many media appearances by MIIS and CNS experts over the last three days:

September 11

New York Times – “Chemical Disarmament Hard Even in Peacetime
Amy Smithson, Senior Fellow with CNS in Washington, D.C., and Raymond Zilinskas, MIIS professor and director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Nonproliferation Program at CNS, are featured prominently in front page article about the challenge of monitoring and securing Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal.

Wall Street Journal – “Dismantling Weapons Poses Logistics, Security Challenges
Amy Smithson interviewed above the logistics of a diplomatic solution for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons.

Los Angeles Times – “Disarming Syria of Chemical Weapons Highly Complex, Experts Say
Raymond Zilinskas gives his expert opinion on the challenges of finding and dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons.

MSNBC – “The Cat-and-Mouse Game with Chemical Weapons
Assistant Professor and CNS Fellow Philipp Bleek assesses the issue for MSNBC.

CNN – “Syria’s Chemical Arsenal at a Glance
CNN quotes a CNS report about Syria’s chemical agent research, production and arsenal.

Al Jazeera – “Will Syria Give Up Its Chemical Weapons?
Amy Smithson interviewed by Al Jazeera.

September 10

National Public Radio - “Getting Rid of Syria’s Chemical Weapons Would Be Difficult
Robert Siegel spoke at length with Amy Smithson on the popular afternoon news magazine, All Things Considered.

KGO Radio – “Newstalk
CNS Deputy Director Jon Wolfsthal talks about the Syria crisis and the policy challenges facing President Obama ahead of his address to the nation on Tuesday.

International Business Times“Syria: Even if They Hand over Their Chemical Weapons Stockpile, Could They Still Make More as Assad Fights for His Life?”
Jon Wolfsthal tells the IBT that any agreement with Syria should be viewed skeptically, but that Assad could be deterred from using chemical weapons either for fear of violating agreement or US military action.

September 9

New York Times – “Unit Experienced in Chemical Weapon Destruction Stands Ready to Help
Raymond Zilinskas talks to the NY Times about the likely role of inspectors if parties agree on a plan to move forward.

Reuters – “Dismantling Syria Chemical Weapons Arsenal Would Be Tough Task
Amy Smithson talks about the experience of weapons inspectors in Iraq and Libya in relation to prospects in Syria in a Reuters news wire.

Los Angeles Times – “Obama Weighs Russia Proposal on Syria Chemical Arsenal
Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at CNS, was interviewed about the pros and cons of the Russian diplomatic initiative.

Christian Science Monitor – “Russia’s New Syria Plan Could Turn ‘Quagmire’ into an Easy Win
Jon Wolfsthal is quoted on the diplomatic proposal for Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control.

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MIIS Alumnus Aaron Stein Named a Top Young Foreign Policy Leader by Diplomatic Courier

Aaron Stein

Aaron Stein (MAIPS ’10) chaired one of the student delegations during the arms control negotiation simulation course at the Monterey Institute in October 2009.

Monterey Institute alumnus Aaron Stein (MAIPS ’10) has been named one of the “2013 Top 99 Foreign Policy Leaders Under 33,” an international list recognizing the most influential foreign policy leaders under the age of 33. The list is published by Diplomatic Courier magazine and co-sponsored by Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

Stein is a research associate at the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul, where he works on security and proliferation issues in the Middle East. In 2012, he and center director Sinan Ulgen launched Turkey’s first nonproliferation and disarmament program, creating a website that he describes as “the first comprehensive collection of scholarly articles covering all aspects of Turkey’s nuclear program and policies.” His work has been published in scholarly journals and print media including the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and World Politics Review.

“Aaron first demonstrated his leadership qualities to me during a semester-long U.S.-Russian arms control negotiation simulation in which he chaired the U.S. student delegation,” commented Dr. William Potter, director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute. “He excelled as a young scholar, writing a very creative research paper that explored the impact of psychological factors on Iranian nuclear perspectives. Aaron’s language skills and ability to bridge the theory/policy divide distinguishes him from many young leaders, and should serve him well as he pursues his chosen career.”

Stein is currently a PhD candidate at King’s College, London, researching Iranian and Turkish nuclear decision-making. In addition to his MA in international policy studies from the Monterey Institute with a specialization in nuclear nonproliferation, he holds a BA in political science from the University of San Francisco. The complete list of “99 Under 33” is available on the Diplomatic Courier website.

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Center for Nonproliferation Studies Receives $2 Million Grant from Carnegie Corporation

Dr. Siegfried Hecker

VCDNP Visiting Distinguished Scientist Dr. Siegfried Hecker being interviewed by the media after an April 2013 talk at the Vienna Center.

The Monterey Institute of International Studies and its James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) learned recently that CNS will receive a $2,000,000, four-year, matching challenge grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY). The grant was provided to enable the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) to sustain and expand its work on various initiatives to improve international governance on issues related to nonproliferation and nuclear security.

“We are thrilled to work with Carnegie Corporation on these issues of vital international importance,” said CNS Founder and Director William Potter upon learning of the grant’s approval. “The VCDNP is a new but critical player on the nuclear stage in Vienna, and we are excited about the opportunities this new grant presents. It will be a tremendous boost to our efforts to strengthen global nuclear norms.”

“This grant will be a genuine difference-maker, helping CNS and the Vienna Center to continue to build on the excellent work they have done over the past two years,” commented Institute President Sunder Ramaswamy. “We are delighted to continue the strong partnership we have experienced working with the Carnegie Corporation.”

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation is an international think tank created in 2011 with the support of the Austrian Foreign Ministry and operated by CNS. Headed by Executive Director Elena Sokova, the center has rapidly established itself as an intellectual and policy hub in Vienna, hosting dozens of seminars and workshops, facilitating dialogue and discussions among national governments, international organizations, and the civil society, and offering training programs on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament to diplomats and other practitioners from around the world. As such, the center fills a very important niche, and provides a much needed platform for candid, in-depth, and result-oriented discussion on the most pressing nonproliferation and nuclear security issues.

“The CCNY grant is a recognition of the accomplishments of the center and its potential role in further strengthening global nuclear governance,” observed Ms. Sokova.

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U.S. Institute for Peace Awards $119,000 Grant to Support Project Co-Directed by MIIS Professor Avner Cohen

Avner Cohen

Monterey Institute Professor Avner Cohen is also a senior fellow with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

The Monterey Institute of International Studies and its James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) were pleased to learn recently that the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has awarded a grant of $118,900 to support a research project on “Nuclear Norms in Global Governance” to be co-led by Professor Avner Cohen of the Institute’s Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program faculty and Professor Maria Rost Rublee, a senior lecturer at the Australian National University.

The project will examine the role of norms in global interactions and suggest a framework for employing them to help both understand and shape international policies related to nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear energy. The two-year project is expected to culminate in the publication of a book of scholarly articles on the topic co-edited by Professor Cohen and Professor Rublee, as well as a series of briefings for policy-makers in Washington, D.C; Vienna, Austria, and Canberra, Australia.

Also a senior fellow and education program director with CNS, Professor Cohen is best known for his work on nonproliferation issues in the Middle East, and more specifically Israel’s nuclear policy, about which he has written two highly regarded books (Israel and the Bomb in 1998 and The Worst Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb in 2010). Professor Cohen twice won the research and writing award of the MacArthur Foundation and was also twice a senior fellow at the USIP.

“My project co-director Maria Rublee and I are tremendously grateful to the U.S. Institute of Peace for supporting this important project,” commented Professor Cohen. “Our hope is that our work will ultimately offer new avenues for dialogue and research-based strategies for enhancing the international nonproliferation regime.”

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