Chemical & Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program (CBWNP)

Engaging in activities designed to broaden both public and academic understanding of chemical and biological weapons issues.
Updated: Mar 16, 2012


The Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program (CBWNP) at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) conducts research into many aspects of chemical, toxin, and biological weapons and develops strategies for their elimination. The CBWNP's research agenda includes:

  • appraising the security implications of emerging biological and chemical technologies, such as synthetic biology and nanobiotechnology, evaluating governance approaches, and initiating innovative approaches to prevent the misuse of select technologies;
  • examining major case studies of chemical and biological weapons programs (e.g., the USSR, Iran, Iraq) via interviews with the weaponeers, key officials, and inspectors or through primary source documentation;
  • evaluating the potential for the development of novel chemical and biological warfare agents;
  • exploring avenues for nontraditional players, such as the private sector, to play constructive roles in the nonproliferation arena;
  • facilitating dialogues with various stakeholders in select troubled countries and regions to address their idiosyncratic chemical and biological weapons proliferation problems;
  • monitoring developments related to international biological and chemical arms control and disarmament;
  • studying public health systems for the purpose of generating findings that will be utilized by state, county, and other local health departments to prepare for and respond to catastrophic events caused by biological, chemical, and radiological materials.
  • monitoring and assessing biological cooperative threat reduction activities in countries that once constituted the Soviet Union and follow new developments in this field as they expand to the Middle East, Asia, and Africa;
  • assessing the proliferation potential of the anti-plague systems of the former Soviet states and their possible benefits to international public health.

The Program's products include reports, journal articles, books, occasional papers, and profiles of CBW capabilities of select countries. For example, the March 2012 special issue of the Nonproliferation Review addressed global perspectives on the Biological Weapons Convention and was launched at the BWC Review Conference in December 2011.

Further, the Program augments CNS community-building efforts by training Monterey Institute students and visiting scholars from former Soviet republics, China, and developing countries in Africa, Asia, and South America in technical and policy issues related to CBW nonproliferation.

About the Staff

  • Dr. Raymond A. Zilinskas, CBWNP Director
    Zilinskas currently is co-authoring (with Mr. Milton Leitenberg) the book The Soviet Biological Weapon Program: A History and as part of the Minerva project is conducting research on scientists who operated Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons program and officers who directed their applications against external and perceived internal enemies.
  • Dr. Amy E. Smithson, full-time Senior Fellow
    Smithson specializes in creating innovative approaches to chemical and biological weapons proliferation problems and in in-depth field research on issues related to dual-use chemical and biological technologies, weapons proliferation, threat reduction mechanisms, defense, and homeland security.

    Her book, Germ Gambits: The Bioweapons Dilemma, Iraq and Beyond (Stanford Univ. Press, 2011), debunks myths about how United Nations Special Commission inspectors uncovered Iraq's cover bioweapons program after the 1991 Gulf War. In a Foreign Affairs review, Lawrence Freedman pronounced Germ Gambits 'riveting ... The book reveals how the inspectors became sleuths, combining forensic skills with scientific expertise to outfox Iraqi authorities who pretended that there was nothing to be found."

Adjunct Staff Members

  • Mr. Mark Bishop (chemistry), Adjunct Professor, has a BS from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in chemistry from the University of California Irvine, and he has been a chemistry instructor at Monterey Peninsula College since 1975. He is the author of An Introduction to Chemistry, a chemistry textbook used many colleges and universities in the U.S. and throughout the world. He is also the creator of all of the educational tools at and is actively involved in the chemical education branch of the American Chemical Society.
  • Dr. Paul J. Jackson (biosciences), Adjunct Professor, earned his Ph.D. at the University of Utah in Molecular Biology. For the past 18 years he has been studying bacterial pathogens, first working to develop DNA-based methods of detecting these microbes and their remnants in environmental and laboratory samples, then developing methods to differentiate among different strains of the same pathogenic species. He has been Senior Scientist in the Global Security and Physical and Life Sciences Directorates, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, since 2005. During 2011-2012 he is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute.
  • Dr. Robert J. Melton (public health), Senior Fellow, earned his Medical Doctor degree at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Master's in Public Health at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. During 1999-2001 he was Health Officer, Monterey County Health Department, Salinas, California and during 2002-2006 was Public Health Medical Officer at the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. He currently serves on the Advisory Board to CalPREPARE.

Graduate Student Research Assistants

Like other CNS programs, the CBWNP employs graduate student research assistants (GRAs) drawn from the MIIS' student body. GRAs work at the CBWNP encompasses a wide range of research and training activities that aim to add to their analytical and experiential skills, thus providing added value to their academic repertoire. The CBWNP GRAs during spring 2012 are:

  • James Bishop (BA 1990, Middlebury College). Expected MA in May 2012 with a major in Nonproliferation & Terrorism Studies. Second language is Arabic/Serbo-Croatian. Current interest is American/European right-wing extremism.
  • Eva Cheng (BA 2010, Southwestern University). Expected MA in May 2012 with a major in Nonproliferation & Terrorism Studies. Second language is Chinese. Major interest is Dark Networks.
  • Catherine Dill (BS 2009, Georgetown University). Expected MA in May 2013 with a major in Nonproliferation & Terrorism Studies. Second language is Mandarin Chinese. Major interests are verification mechanisms of nonproliferation treaties and regimes, and East Asia nonproliferation issues.
  • Casey Mahoney (BA 2011, Middlebury College). Expected MA in May 2012 with a major in Nonproliferation & Terrorism Studies. Second language is Russian. Major interest is nonproliferation and Russian and Eurasian affairs.
  • Chris McKallagat (A.B. 2004 Princeton University). Expected MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies in December 2012. Language of study is Arabic. Major interest is Middle East nonproliferation and disarmament.
  • Elizabeth Wolcott (BA 2010, University of California, Berkeley). Expected MA in May 2012 with a major in Nonproliferation & Terrorism Studies. Second language is Russian. Major interest is terrorism, cult phenomena, and biological/chemical weapons nonproliferation.

The CBWNP's main office is at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, California, and it is represented at the CNS office in Washington, D.C.

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