| by Jason Warburg
Twenty-five years ago, in the waning days of the Cold War, Professor William C. Potter of the Monterey Institute of International Studies recognized the moment of historic change as both an opportunity and a threat. The easing of tensions between superpowers offered the opportunity to shrink nuclear arsenals but also heightened the risk of nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands.
Potter’s response was to propose the establishment of a new center for non-proliferation studies at the Institute. “My two graduate assistants and I were the entire staff at the beginning,” he recalled.
Today the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) is the largest nongovernmental organization in the world devoted to combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction, with more than 35 staff located in Monterey, Washington, D.C., and Vienna, Austria. By working with governments and international organizations around the world to disseminate analyses on critical emerging issues and train the next generation of nonproliferation specialists, CNS has made unique contributions to promoting a more secure world.
The center has adapted over time, adding expertise in chemical and biological weapons and popularizing the use of innovative tools and technologies such as imagery analysis and 3d modeling for verification purposes. CNS also continues to be the hub for an ever-expanding network of nonproliferation professionals, with former staff occupying influential positions at the International Atomic Energy Agency and a variety of nongovernmental organizations, as well as within the policy-making agencies of nations throughout the world. CNS now manages the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation on behalf of the government of Austria.
“We’ve accomplished so much over the last 25 years, and yet in some ways it feels like we’re just getting started,” said Potter. “Every day the headlines remind us of the dangers created by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And every day CNS is working to educate people about those dangers.”
At the Carnegie Endowment’s 2015 International Nonproliferation Conference in Washington D.C., CNS experts dominated the agenda, serving on a variety of discussion panels. In Middlebury’s D.C. office, CNS staff teamed up with Middlebury College Professor Amy Yuen to offer a specially designed intensive nonproliferation course for over a dozen students. And the center recently hosted an anniversary celebration that drew friends, supporters, and alumni from all over the world.
A quarter century after its founding, CNS has firmly established itself as a leading voice in the global conversation about the threat of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and an indispensable source of research, analysis, and education on one of the most pressing issues of our time.
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