2021 Summer Fellows Final Presentations

Fellows’ typical day of working remotely. A short video complied by Eli Horton.

Fellows’ Presentation Slides and Summaries (in order of presentation):

Janice Park: Brown University, International and Public Affairs

The Future of US-North Korea Diplomacy: Lessons from the JCPOA

My independent research project is about taking lessons from the success of U.S. sanctions against Iran and applying them to the North Korea case. Iranian sanctions eventually led to the JCPOA because economic costs were sufficient, the Iranian government is not an autocracy, there was international cohesion, and the duration of sanctioning was sufficient. In the North Korea case, sanctioning has been unsuccessful for its autocratic government and the lack of international cohesion in sanctioning. Understanding the differences in each case allows one to criticize past strategies, which consisted of non-engagement and sanctioning. To conclude my project, I propose a strategy of re-engagement that consists of cultural diplomacy, confidence building measures and concepts from reconciliation theory.

Mercy Ogutu: Trinity Washington University, Political Science and International Affairs

Economic Diplomacy to repair United States and North Korea Policy

In the race of expanding multilateral diplomacy with the United States and North Korea, President Biden can lead a new era of peace in the Korean Peninsula. North Korea’s economy is strained from the aftermath of self-imposed isolation, Covid-19, United Nations sanctions, and increased spending on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. This project will cross-analyze the influence of United Nation sanctions relief on North Korea to increase United States diplomacy of humanitarian aid to help the North Korean people. Through a sanction review of potential sanction relief by the United Nations Security Council with the help of the United States, North Korea could decrease nuclear weapons and missile production. Economic diplomacy can lead to improved diplomatic relations. This project will recommend conditions of limited nuclear programs North Korea must abide by to receive sanction relief from the United Nations Security Council. In the past Kim Jong-Un has not been pursued with economic pressure, but the current economic instability can create a potential limit on the nuclear weapons program in North Korea.

Suria Vanrajah: Middlebury College, Political Science & Anthropology

Deterring Doomsday: A Single-Player Virtual Arms Control Simulation

Deterringdoomsday.com is an educational site aimed at introducing younger audiences to arms control and nuclear nonproliferation. The core of the site is a single-player arms control simulation which allows the player to take on the role of President of the United States within the National Security Council as the NSC aims to address a fictional crisis with North Korea. The simulation provides an engaging and educational opportunity to learn about arms control by using a game platform to introduce the player to various arms control topics ranging from deterrence to the use of sanctions in nonproliferation. In addition to the game, the website will include a page with additional educational resources and opportunities to connect individuals, particularly young people, to further resources to learn about nuclear nonproliferation and arms control. This website will hopefully be expanded to include a more diverse and advanced range of simulations moving forward.

Eliza Freedman: Middlebury College, Political Science

Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Ambitions and the Implications of Chinese-Saudi Nuclear Cooperation

In 2017, China and Saudi Arabia engaged in a uranium prospecting project in search of the most uranium-rich sites in the KSA. And in 2020 — as was researched by CNS’s researchers Ian Stewart, Jeffrey Lewis, Noah Mayhew, David Schmerler, and Chen Zak Kane in “The Status of the Front End of Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Cycle” — three major news publications reported that Saudi Arabia had begun mining and converting uranium at multiple of these sites. CNS’s researchers did not find proof of these claims. The concept for my research this summer stemmed from these news reports, as I attempt to understand the true status of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program and what its future holds. I have spent the summer using satellite imagery analysis to monitor the four sites that the Chinese-Saudi prospecting project deemed “very good” for mining, and I have used more traditional, academic research methods to examine the status and nature of the Saudi Arabian nuclear program. Throughout this presentation, I will take viewers through my still-ongoing research process, using specific satellite images, in addition to academic sources, to analyze Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program, the various directions it may be headed, and nonproliferation implications.

Lia Swiniarski: Middlebury College, History & Political Science and French

Achieving a WMDFZ and Overall Regional Security in the Middle East: Components and Considerations for the Future

While dialogue between state actors in the Middle East concerning matters of regional security and nonproliferation has a history of stagnation and contention, events over the last decade, particularly, the Arab Spring starting in 2011, a rise in Iran’s nuclear program, humanitarian crises in Yemen and Syria, and a rise in terrorist group activities, have led to a push by many activists and political leaders in the region to call for a strengthened security framework. Over the past few decades, many efforts have been made to promote a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East, such as the ACRS Working Group in the 1990s, the Geneva/Glion informal consultations in 2013-2014, and the commitment to the JCPOA by Iran and Western countries in 2015, however individual state priorities of national security combined with a complex, multi-faceted array of conflicts among different actors in the region have made any push for future dialogues concerning regional security seemingly impossible. Through my independent research project at CNS, I am in the process of examining what regional conditions are necessary in the Middle East to effectively achieve a WMDFZ and overall stability in the region. Currently, I am in the process of outlining and drafting a longer policy brief essay that will include extensive analysis of my findings on the issue, as well as a shorter op-ed piece through which I will narrow in on a specific aspect of my project and expand on it in further detail.

Ethan Lee: Stanford University, Political Science

Missiles ad Astra: Strategic Symbolism in Iran and the Development of Dual-Use Aerospace Technologies

What factors drive nations to develop ambitious space programs with secondary dual-use potential? This project examines Iran’s space ambitions beyond immediate security concerns held by the US military and intelligence community. Iran’s space ambitions—and, by extension, its prospective role in ballistic missile development—cannot be fully explained without considering the interplay of security factors with bureaucratic interactions and the functionality of space programs as political instruments of a strategically symbolic value. The first section of the project outlines the history and context of the Iranian Space Agency as well as driving elements of symbolic significance. Section two builds upon this by highlighting overarching security-driven concerns and norms driving Iran’s pursuit of symbolic milestones which impact its scientific and technological standing on the world stage. The final section of the paper examines the role of space ambitions as an instrument and indicator of political processes, along with its broader implications in relation to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Madelyn Lockshine: Ohio State University, International Studies & Linguistics

Biological Weapons Programs of State and Non-State Actors: Case Study of Unit 731 and Aum Shinrikyo

Biological weapons have the potential to be extremely dangerous and destructive. Despite international law prohibiting the development and use of infectious pathogens in conflict, several states pursued biological weapons programs during World War II and beyond. One of the most notorious programs was the Japanese program, entitled Unit 731 and led by a doctor named Ishii Shiro. Then a few decades later, a doomsday cult and terrorist organization, Aum Shinrikyo, led by megalomaniac Shoko Asahara, began to research and develop biological weapons to release and influence the outcome of Japanese elections. Both programs committed heinous acts of human experimentation, torture, and deliberate infection with deadly pathogens in pursuit of these peculiar and alluring weapons. In comparing the two programs, one with significant government funding and support and the other a non-state terrorist group built from the ground up, the secrets and taboos behind biological weapons can be exposed and we can discover the reasons why each group decided to conduct this dangerous research in pursuit of their goals and ultimately, why they failed. Studying previous biological weapons developments can also help give some insight in to the future of potential bioterrorism and overall biosecurity.

Lia Sokol: Cornell University, Government

A CRISPR Understanding: Recent Advances in Gene Editing and their International Security Implications

Emerging technologies are advancing rapidly and efficiently – at a pace, some argue, beyond society’s ability to keep up. Although this presents many new and exciting opportunities, it also poses a number of challenges on how to regulate and manage these technologies. This project aims to analyze the implications of gene-editing technologies in the context of bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction by looking at a) the dual-use possibilities of gene-editing technologies, b) the limitations and gaps in existing international laws and guidelines with regard to regulating these technologies, and c) the possible routes to filling these gaps in the near future. By analyzing existing literature, speaking with experts, and examining international laws and conventions, I have used my project to begin exploring these three points and crafting an argument for the urgency of developing clear regulations in the near future.

Eli Horton: Middlebury College, International & Global Studies

French Intervention in the Syrian Civil War and Continued Effects on Chemical Weapons Impunity

France’s strong reaction to the Assad regime’s chemical weapons use and its position in the Syrian Civil War is a result of its various national and international security interests in the region. I look to lay out some of these motivations for France’s intervention such as its standing in the international community as well as the trauma of domestic terrorist attacks. 

France’s response to Syrian chemical weapons uses consisted of airstrikes, application of universal jurisdiction, and a continued probe into the chemical weapons attacks that affect the international precedent surrounding similar chemical weapons incidents. In my research on these precedents, I look specifically at France’s formation of the International Partnership Against the Impunity of Chemical Weapons (PAI) in 2018. The PAI created a platform to name and shame perpetrators of chemical weapons and the effectiveness and consequences of this partnership overlap with other operations such as the JIM and IIT created by the OPCW and the UN. My ongoing research pertains to the PAI and the dialogue surrounding its efficacy and its effects on how international bodies address the use of chemical weapons.

Addie Sparks: University of Georgia, International Affairs & Political Science

Humanitarian Perspectives and Nuclear Consequences in India

In this project, I hope to understand the drivers of the increasing inclusion of humanitarian perspectives in conversations surrounding nuclear programs in India. I have chosen to study the communities in Jaduguda, in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand state, where the Uranium Company of India Limited (UCIL) operates four underground mines, one opencast mine and two ore processing plants. By using resident testimony from this area and other open-source data, I will explore the history and impacts of raised consciousness of humanitarian and ecological consequences of uranium milling and mining in this region in recent years, and examine the state bureaucracy and infrastructure gaps that lead to devastating externalities. 

Tricia White: University of Georgia, International Affairs and Arabic

Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too: An Examination of U.S. Strategic Trade Outside of Multilateral Export Control Regimes

The purpose of multilateral export control regimes is to establish norms for strategic trade. When export control groups have differing rules and norms, it can create inconsistency for the international system of strategic trade. Because these groups, like the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and the Wassenaar Agreement are nonbinding and consensus-based, member states must establish their own domestic export control laws and strategic trade priorities. The goal of this project is to examine how individual trade relationships for dual-use commodities outside of export control regimes impact nonproliferation efforts, with a focused lens on the United States/Israel strategic trade relationship. This research is ongoing as I continue to evaluate how the United States has deviated overtime from strict export control guidelines to exceptions and whether those actions contradict US nonproliferation policy at large.

Tara McLaughlin: College of William and Mary, Economics and Math

French Mining in Niger

Summary: The French have mined and milled uranium in Niger for 50 years using it to power their robust nuclear energy sector and nuclear weapons program. In their wake, they have left a humanitarian, environmental, and security crisis in Niger that remains largely hidden from the world. Through retelling the history of mining, detailing the complex relationships between mining companies and French government, and analyzing satellite imagery, this presentation reveals the sinister nature of resource extraction and shows how little we have moved away from “past” colonial relationships. Through the lens of post-colonial theory, I will give a brief analysis of how and why these forms of exploitation continue, and what the future of this project may hold.

Sophia Poteet: Boston University, International and Public Affairs

Gender and Multilateral Nuclear Weapons Treaties

Both academic and policy interest in the role gender plays in arms control and nonproliferation has grown substantially over the past decade. From the unequal participation of women and gender minorities in nonproliferation and nuclear weapons policymaking to the gendered impact of radiation and the gendered discourse used to discuss nuclear weapons, we are just beginning to understand the myriad ways in which gender impacts nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.

This research project seeks to contribute to that understanding by investigating the ways in which gender has shaped the negotiation of nuclear weapons treaties at the multilateral level, and by investigating the historical origins of efforts to improve gender equality in those negotiations. From the negotiation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in the 1960’s to the negotiation of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017, gender shapes who is in the room, which topics are on the agenda, and what words are used to discuss those topics.

This research forms part of a larger research project Sophia is conducting for her undergraduate thesis at Boston University, and this CNS presentation will focus on her initial research findings through archival research of the NPT negotiations.

This year’s Summer Internship is funded by the Tom and Sarah Pattison Fund,the Carnegie Corporation of New York, CV Starr Foundation, and the Howard and Anne Morgens Fund