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Associate Professor; Acting Program Chair, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies

Philipp Bleek
McGowan Building MG205
(831) 647-6509

Philipp Bleek works on the causes, consequences, and amelioration of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons threats at the intersection of academia, non-governmental organizations, and government. Dr. Bleek has been on the faculty since 2011, but in 2012-13 took a leave to serve as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, supported by a Council on Foreign Relations fellowship. He has served as an advisor to several political campaigns, a consultant to the U.S. government and non-governmental organizations, and regularly participates in Track 2 dialogues.

Dr. Bleek came to Monterey from a Research Fellow position at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Before that he was in Washington, DC, where, while completing his doctoral studies, he taught at both Georgetown and in the Department of Defense Senior Leader Development Program. During that time, he also served as a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Dr. Bleek is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

The goal of this workshop is to hone students’ professionally-relevant, policy-oriented communication abilities, including memo writing and briefing. The course will include a combination of lectures, seminar-style discussion, small working group engagement, and individual student work.

Spring 2017 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop, Fall 2017 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop, Spring 2018 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop, Fall 2018 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

View in Course Catalog

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the issues surrounding the proliferation of nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological (NBCR) weapons and their means of delivery, the consequences of proliferation, and means to stem it or ameliorate its dangers, including:

• Nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons technologies

• Means of delivery, including ballistic and cruise missile technology

• Alternative perspectives on the dangers of proliferation and the utility of the term “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD)

• Factors affecting why states do or don’t pursue and obtain nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons and their means of delivery

• Potential and actual non-state actor pursuit, acquisition, and use of NBCR weapons

• Profiles of key countries and their NBCR programs and policies

• Deterrence vis-à-vis states and non-state actors

• Counterproliferation, including the possible use of force

• The nuclear nonproliferation regime, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system

• The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC)

• The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

• Missile control regimes and other export control arrangements

• Cooperative threat reduction and various post-9/11 initiatives

• Alternative futures, including new nuclear abolition debates

Spring 2017 - MIIS, Fall 2017 - MIIS, Spring 2018 - MIIS, Fall 2018 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

The goal of this seminar is to develop the skills necessary to analyze the motivations and capabilities of non-state actors to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction (WMD), more specifically chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons and materials, for terrorist purposes. Through class discussions, simulation exercises, and individual research, students will review the technical aspects of CBRN, examine the history of CBRN use by terrorists, assess CBRN terrorism threats and vulnerabilities, and assess policy responses to CBRN terrorism. Students are required to have substantial background knowledge of either CBRN or terrorism before joining the seminar.

Students will prepare weekly short memos, conduct group work for integrative simulation exercises, prepare an independent research project, and have various presentation opportunities.

Spring 2017 - MIIS, Fall 2017 - MIIS, Spring 2018 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

Dr. Bleek’s research and teaching focuses on the causes, consequences, and amelioration of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons proliferation to both states and non-state actors. He is motivated to try to address what he regards as serious, albeit often poorly understood and sometimes exaggerated, threats. And he is fascinated by the combination of science and technology on the one hand and individual and social dynamics on the other that doing these topics justice requires. He particularly enjoys introducing students to the field and helping them grapple with the often highly conceptual dangers of the non-state dimension of the threat.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Government, Georgetown
  • Master in Public Policy, Harvard
  • AB in Public and International Affairs, Princeton

Professor Bleek has been teaching at the Institute since 2011.


"Avatars of the Earth: Radical Environmentalism and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Terrorism" (with Zachary Kallenborn), Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (2018).

“When Did (and Didn’t) States Proliferate? Chronicling the Spread of Nuclear Weapons” Discussion Paper (Cambridge, MA: Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University and Monterey, CA: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, June 2017).

“Special Issue: Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction” (co-edited with Chen Kane and Joshua Pollack) Nonproliferation Review Volume 23, Number 1 (2016).

“Eliminating Syria’s Chemical Weapons and Implications for Addressing Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats Elsewhere” (with Nicholas J. Kramer) Nonproliferation Review Volume 23, Number 1 (2016), pp. 197-230.

“Elimination of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Lessons from the Last Quarter-Century” (with Chen Kane and Joshua H. Pollack) Nonproliferation Review Volume 23, Number 1 (2016), pp. 15-23.

“Security Guarantees and Allied Nuclear Proliferation” (with Eric Lorber) Journal of Conflict Resolution, Volume 58, Number 3 (2014), pp. 429-454. Note: Revised and reprinted as “Security Guarantees and Allied Nuclear Proliferation” (with Eric Lorber) in Neil Narang, Erik Gartzke, and Matthew Kroenig (eds.), Nonproliferation Policy and Nuclear Posture: Causes and Consequences of the Spread of Nuclear Weapons (Routledge, 2015).

“Turkish-Iranian Relations: From “Friends with Benefits” to “It’s Complicated” (with Aaron Stein) Insight Turkey, Volume 14, Number 4 (2012), pp. 137-150.

“Shadow Wars: Covert Operations Against Iran’s Nuclear Program” (with David Vielhaber) Nonproliferation Review Volume 19, Number 3 (November 2012), pp. 481-491.
“Turkey and America Face Iran” (with Aaron Stein) Survival Volume 54, Number 2 (April-May 2012).

“Abrüsting und Nichtweiterverbreitung” (mit David Vielhaber) in Simon Koschut und Magnus-Sebastian Kutz (hrsg.), Außenpolitik USA: Theorie – Prozess – Politikfelder – Regionen (Verlag Barbara Budrich, 2011). Note: German-language publication, translates as: “Arms Control and Nonproliferation” (with David Vielhaber) in Simon Koschut and Magnus-Sebastian Kutz (eds.), U.S. Foreign Policy: Theory, Process, Subject Areas, Regions (Barbara Budrich Publishers, 2011).”

“Chemical Weapons and Public Health” (with Ernest C. Lee and Stefanos N. Kales) in Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel (eds.) Terrorism and Public Health, 2nd Edition (Oxford University Press, 2011).

“Why Do States Proliferate? Quantitative Analysis of the Exploration, Pursuit, and Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons” in William Potter (ed.), Forecasting Nuclear Proliferation in the 21st Century: The Role of Theory (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010).

“Minimizing Civil Highly-Enriched Uranium Stocks by 2015: A Forward-Looking Assessment of U.S.-Russian Cooperation” (with Laura Holgate) in Future of the Nuclear Security Environment 2015 (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009), pp. 89-104. Note: Russian translation published by Russian Academy of Sciences.

“After an Attack: Preparing Citizens for Bioterrorism” with Richard Danzig and Rachel Kleinfeld, (Washington, DC: Center for a New American Security, June 2007), pp. 1-68. Note: Identified as one of “ten notable publications of 2007…that influenced our collective thinking about biosecurity” by the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh (January 10, 2008).

“Global Cleanout: An Emerging Response to the Civil Nuclear Material Threat” Occasional Paper (Cambridge, MA: Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, September 2004), pp. 1-43. Note: Paper served as basis of November 10, 2004 episode of NBC television show “West Wing.”

“Project Vinca: Lessons for Securing Civil Nuclear Material Stockpiles” Nonproliferation Review Volume 10, Number 3 (2003), pp. 1-23.