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Students from five U.S. high schools, five Russian high schools in closed nuclear cities, and one school from Bosnia & Herzegovina, along with nearly a dozen Austrian high school students, traveled to the Spring 2012 Student-Teacher Conference of the Critical Issues Forum (CIF) from April 30 through May 2 in Vienna. The CIF is an educational program funded by the US Department of Energy and managed by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

At the conference, the students presented their findings on this year’s CIF topic of “Nuclear Safety and Security.” While this issue is not new, last year’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident reawakened the world to the fact that while the probability of nuclear power plant accidents or attacks is low, the potential consequences are extremely grave.

The CIF conference—which featured a keynote address by International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano—culminates a year-long program designed to increase high school students’ awareness of nonproliferation and disarmament issues and enhance critical thinking skills. The conference was scheduled as a side event to the 2012 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee, giving students the opportunity to experience international diplomacy firsthand.

The CIF conference in Vienna was co-sponsored by CNS, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation (VCDNP), and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. CNS operates the Vienna Center under a five-year contract with the Austrian government. For more information on the CIF program, please visit the CIF blog, and view the following video.


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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir