News & Views: March 2016
2016 McElvany Prize offers $10,000 for best essay
Image credit: Nic McPhee_Flickr

Prestigious essay contest open to young scholars 

In an effort to spur new thinking and creative solutions in the field of WMD nonproliferation and disarmament, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and its journal, the Nonproliferation Review , launched the 2016 Doreen and Jim McElvany Nonproliferation Challenge with the grand prize of $10,000 and a runner's up prize of $2,000.

The essays with the most outstanding new ideas and proposals will also be published in the Nonproliferation Review  in 2017. 

This year's contest is open to those enrolled in a master's or doctoral program, or those who have received their graduate or PhD degree no more than five years prior to the contest deadline of September 9, 2015. 

For more information, visit our website.
IAEA partners with VCDNP to promote CPPNM
Director General Amano attaches high priority to securing entry-into-force

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at the event on Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material hosted by the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. _Photo D. Calma_IAEA_
On February 22, 2016, CNS's Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP), in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), hosted a high-level event to promote the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) with a view to securing its entry-into-force. Fourteen ambassadors representing states that, while party to the CPPNM, have yet to become party to the amendment participated. 

In his remarks to the meeting, IAEA Director General Yukiyo Amano called the amendment "the most important area of unfinished business in nuclear security." 

Islamic State's confirmed use of chemical weapons
Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images; via

New analysis by Research Associate Farnaz Alimhehri examines why the the West is panicking

On February 12, 2016, CIA Director John Brennan confirmed that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) used chemical weapons - specifically mustard and chlorine gas - and may use them again, as it has the capacity to produce more.

ISIL's chemical weapons use raises serious concerns about non-state actors' access to WMD and reinforces fears of a possible terrorist attack with them in the West. The European Union (EU) member states have begun individually training their forces on how to respond to a CBRN attack, and the United States has also been reconsidering various options to mitigate the impact of an unconventional attack on US soil.

These preparations beg the question: what makes a CBRN attack more concerning than a conventional one? Four factors stand out:

CNS course at Diplomatic Academy of Chile

Senior CNS experts strengthen nonproliferation and disarmament training of Chilean diplomats

Elena Sokova and Nikolai Sokov with students of the Santiago-based Diplomatic Academy
On March 14-18, Deputy Director of CNS Elena Sokova  and CNS Senior Fellow Dr. Nikolai Sokov taught a short course at the Diplomatic Academy of Chile in Santiago focused on the nuclear nonproliferation regime, nuclear security, arms control and nuclear disarmament, and other key issues on the international security agenda. The course was attended by second-year students of the Diplomatic Academy, who will, upon graduation, work at the Foreign Ministry.

The course is part of a strong and growing relationship between the Foreign Ministry of Chile and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies that is implemented under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Foreign Ministry and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

New course for US government personnel

Week-long course will be held April 11-15, in Washington

CNS will hold the next course in its series designed for government practitioners in the field of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. US government officials, as well as officials from a number of foreign embassies, are invited to apply by March 28, 2016. The course is free of charge to qualified applicants. 
"Issues in Nuclear Nonproliferation" is intended for professionals with previous experience in the field of nuclear weapons issues and is also open to applicants who have completed the introductory course in this series. This course will be held April 11-15 at the Washington, DC, office of CNS. 
The course will cover urgent current issues, including next steps in managing Iran's nuclear capabilities, meeting the growing North Korean nuclear challenge, and assessing the outcome of the 2015 Nuclear Security Summit. 

Apply today.

North Korea in the news: parsing rhetoric from reality
Melissa Hanham has been featured on NPR, the
Wall Street Journal, the
Economist,  and others for her insight into North Korean nuclear activity
CNS experts featured regularly in the media

Against a backdrop of regular tests, ratcheted sanctions, and ever-bigger wargames, tensions are mounting on the Korean peninsula. 

CNS experts such as East Asia Program Director Jeffrey Lewis, Senior Research Associate Melissa Hanham, and Research Associate Catherine Dill  have been quoted by NPR, Reuters, Agence France Presse, the Washington Post , the Wall Street Journal , Turkish Radio and Television World , and others t o help separate rhetoric from reality and paint an accurate picture of the threat and challenges. 

Check out the range of recent media appearances, and be sure to follow us on Twitter for breaking developments.  
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