Category Archives: 2009-2010

2009-2010 Teachers’ Workshop Report

U.S. and Russian High School Teachers Explore Nuclear Nonproliferation at the Critical Issues Forum Teacher Workshop

The 2009-2010 Critical Issues Forum (CIF) launched another successful year of the program at a teachers workshop held from November 12 to 14, 2009 at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) in Monterey. Sixteen U.S. teachers and three Russian teachers participated in the workshop to develop curricula this year’s topic “Nuclear Nonproliferation: Global Opportunities and Regional Challenges.” The group included eight new American teachers from four schools new to the CIF program. Teachers from high schools in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin attended, along with Russian teachers from the cities of Novouralsk and Zelenogorsk. Russian teachers will hold a parallel workshop in January in Novouralsk with the rest of the participating teachers from Russia’s closed nuclear cities: Lesnoy, Ozersk, Sarov, Seversk, Snezhinsk, Trekhgorniy, Zarechniy, and Zheleznogorsk.

The topic reflected the new momentum in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament in preparation for the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. While the global movement to strengthen the international nuclear nonproliferation regime is increasing, the international community has been continuously challenged by regional nonproliferation concerns, including Iran and North Korea. This year’s CIF program challenges participants to investigate how regional security issues in which WMD play a significant role will impact on the outcome of the Review Conference and to explore how to improve regional security while strengthening the NPT regime. With this in mind, CNS staff and experienced high school teachers worked together to develop the curriculum and teaching materials for this year’s CIF topic, and introduced them at the workshop. Experts from CNS and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) shared their expertise through lectures and interactive sessions.

The workshop consisted of three components: content-lectures by CNS experts and a guest speaker; instruction on how to conduct the CIF program with students; and teacher-led discussions on how to further improve the program. The lectures included an overview of the current nuclear weapons status in the world, the basics of nuclear weapons technology, Introduction to the nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime, prospects for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and recent initiatives in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. On the second day of the workshop, lectures were focused on current regional challenges in nuclear nonproliferation, including South Asia, the Middle East, and Northeast Asia. The workshop also included a debate between Monterey Institute nonproliferation students on whether the international community should negotiate a Nuclear Weapons Convention to ban all nuclear weapons.

The CIF program’s goal is consistent with the CNS mission to train the next generation of nonproliferation specialists and raise global public awareness on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) issues. High school students rarely have an opportunity to study nonproliferation and disarmament of WMD. The CIF program provides high school students with a precious opportunity to study international security and WMD issues, aiming to make an impact in securing a more peaceful world in the future. CIF partners believe that disarmament and nonproliferation education for young people, including high school students, is one of the most important measures to enhance peace and security in the world.

The teachers participating in the workshop will work with their students on the topic of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament for the remainder of the school year. Teachers and students will return to Monterey to present projects demonstrating their study of WMD issues at a student-teacher conference in April 2010.CNS is grateful to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ford Foundation for their support of CIF.

Critical Issues Forum 2009 -2010

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Global Opportunities & Regional Challenges
Benchmarks and Learning Objectives


In April 2009 US President Obama gave a powerful speech in Prague, The Czech Republic. In his speech he supported nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. President Obama stated America’s goal for a world without nuclear weapons. In 2010 countries will review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). At the Review Conference they will have an excellent chance to make progress toward President Obama’s goal.

In the past ten years there have been both successes and failures in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. The 2005 NPT Review Conference was very disappointing. As a result, there has been growing concern about the future of the NPT regime. The 2005 Review Conference finished without any agreement. This did not mean the Treaty was dead. However, if the 2010 Review Conference also fails, there might be more serious consequences. The NPT currently faces unprecedented challenges.

There are positive signs. Four days before President Obama’s speech in April, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met. Together they expressed their goal of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. With this goal in mind, in July 2009 the United States and Russia agreed to negotiate a new treaty limiting the numbers of nuclear weapons each country will possess. This treaty will replace the START treaty that will expire in December 2009. The new treaty will be comprehensive and legally binding. The agreement will reduce the two countries’ nuclear arsenals. The promises made by both leaders lifted hopes for eventual nuclear disarmament. President Obama has also pledged to work hard to get the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) ratified. At the 2009 Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2010 NPT Review Conference in May 2009, there was a hopeful and positive atmosphere. In addition, after 10 years of no movement, the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva finally came up with its program of work. There is new recognition for the importance of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones. These zones are for both global and regional disarmament. One new zone, the Central Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, entered into force in March 2009. The Pelindaba Treaty creating the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone entered into force in April.

However, there are also nuclear weapons challenges in Northeast Asia, the Middle East, and South Asia. These challenges make it difficult for efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons. One of the biggest challenges is in Northeast Asia. North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003. They tested nuclear weapons in October 2006 and May 2009. In the Middle East, Iran continues to enrich uranium in spite of UN Security Council Resolutions. Iran has very unclear intentions. They refuse to obey the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Security Council resolutions. These actions lead many to believe that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons. Also many believe that in the Middle East Israel possesses nuclear weapons. In South Asia, other nuclear-armed states—India and Pakistan—have not joined the NPT, but are commonly considered as de facto nuclear weapon states.

With these positive and negative signs in mind, the 2010 Review Conference will be held at a very important time in NPT history. There will need to be efforts to address the regional tensions in order to achieve the goals of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. Regional security will be important to whether countries will be able to produce a successful outcome at the 2010 Review Conference.

This year’s CIF Student Conference will happen in April 2010. The 2010 NPT Review Conference will be held in May. In the 2009-2010 Critical Issues Forum, US and Russian students will study how much progress the world has made toward nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. They will look at both the positive and negative signs. They will study how regional security issues play a big role in the outcome of the 2010 Review Conference. They will also try to see how far the world is likely to go with nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

Benchmark I: Nuclear Weapons and Their Control

In Benchmark I you will examine two objectives from the point of view of the scientific & environmental; social & cultural; economic; political & geopolitical domains. Your task is to clearly demonstrate, in a carefully constructed project, a comprehensive understanding of nuclear weapons in the world today. You will learn about who has nuclear weapons, how many there are, and other information that will aid you in understanding these weapons. In addition, you will gain knowledge of past, present, and future ways to control these weapons, including multilateral, regional, and bilateral agreements as well as unilateral measures. You will learn about the treaties that countries have negotiated to control these weapons. The project must be your own work, with clear and correct citations for any work you borrow from others. All work not your own, including photos, graphics, multimedia, charts, and graphs must be credited within your text and in a bibliography.


One: The first objective is to be able to describe what nuclear weapons are and identify who has, or wants to acquire them. This knowledge will help you explain what proliferation is. In this objective you will also explore the history of decisions that these weapons need to be controlled and why.

Two: The second objective is to be able to summarize the agreements, treaties, organizations, and other mechanisms that have been used to control nuclear weapons. This will help you to be able to explain how these mechanisms are used, monitored and verified.

Suggested Areas for Research

In order to understand and write about the objectives, you will want to do research in the following areas. Note that these are suggested areas of research. These are NOT your tasks. You may choose to look at any, all, or none of these areas. The information you gain from doing research in these areas will help you to construct your project. Your only task is to create a project that shows you understand the two objectives.

  • Definitions of words related to nuclear proliferation
  • The countries that have, are developing, and are suspected of developing nuclear weapons
  • The scientific and technical hurdles needed to create nuclear weapons
  • The motivations for nuclear proliferation
  • Early efforts at nuclear nonproliferation
  • The NPT
    • Objectives and key provisions
    • Verification and enforcement (IAEA safeguards and the UN Security Council Resolutions)
    • Membership and growth
    • Reasons why some countries are not part of the NPT
    • Review Conferences
      • Which conferences succeeded and why.
      • Which did not succeed and why.
  • CTBT (current status, prospects)
  • Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) (current status, prospects)
  • Nuclear Weapon Free Zones
  • Bilateral arms control (START)
  • Other nonproliferation measures such as export controls, and Proliferation Security Initiatives (PSI)
  • UN Security Council Resolution 1540