The Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons

The Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons (The Nolan Center) is a non-partisan institute of CSR that explores threat reduction opportunities related to the development, diffusion and use of strategic weapons in a challenging security landscape. A team of experts, inspired by the pioneering work and philosophy of the late Janne E. Nolan, launched the Nolan Center with a recognition that nuclear, biological, chemical and other strategic weapons threats are rising both due to direct changes in policies and practices globally, and as a result of increasing stress on international security institutions and norms. As strategic weapons threats rise, the Nolan Center is committed to developing achievable risk-reducing solutions.

The world has entered a new nuclear arms race, and the danger is rising that nuclear weapons will be used. The United States is moving forward with plans to expand nuclear weapon capabilities by developing new nuclear options in air- and sea-launched cruise missiles and a low-yield nuclear sea-launched ballistic missile warhead, among other things. Russia is pursuing a multifaceted vision for expanding its nuclear capabilities. Countries outside of the Non-Proliferation Treaty such as India, Pakistan, and North Korea continue to advance their nuclear weapons programs.

The Nolan Center is working to help halt this global expansion of nuclear weapons risks. For the United States, the Nolan Center is advancing ideas for a smarter path on nuclear modernization. The Nolan Center team is also working in cooperation with NATO/European and East Asian allies and partners to develop shared definitions of nuclear strategic stability in the multipolar world and common understandings of the responsibilities of nuclear weapons-capable states.

See the CSR Statement “Call to Action on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

The Nolan Center launched a program in 2018 on the future of arms control – which has included analysis and Track 1.5 dialogues to develop specific new steps to drive the future of arms control—and details regarding how they might be implemented in the years ahead. As the international landscape continues to evolve, successful arms control in the 21st Century will require new approaches grounded in the mutual security interests of countries involved. Working in collaboration with governments and other think tanks from around the world, the Nolan Center is developing new arms control concepts that countries may pursue together, with special attention to classes of nuclear weapons that carry the highest risks of ambiguity, escalation, and altering strategic calculations. See here for more details on the program.

The Nolan Center is launching a new program focused on making bioweapons obsolete. It is becoming feasible to end the threat of biological weapons as we know it today due to multiple trends combining. These include advances in synthetic biology and gene editing, significantly reduced costs in synthesis and sequencing, the continuing spread of widely accessible materials and techniques, robotics enabling more rapid and cheaper bioproduction, the explosion in data these advances are driving, and more.

This program recognizes that making bioweapons obsolete will require policy makers to embrace the new normal of rapid technological change and the ubiquity of biotechnology. This ambitious objective will require new approaches to public-private cooperation and shifts in the biosecurity cultures of both government and industry. The Nolan Center’s work will include collaboration among diverse experts from the biotech industry, government, and non-governmental organizations.

See the Biosecurity page for more information.

As the world continues to battle the novel coronavirus that leads to COVID-19, it is a stark reminder of the devastation biological threats can cause. And while this ongoing pandemic arose naturally, it once again proves the grave threat biological weapons still pose to international security and stability.

The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) is developing creative solutions that could help to end this threat. As part of this work, the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) has selected its inaugural class of the Fellowship for Ending Bioweapons Programs. In this one-year program, five Fellows will work with leading experts from CSR’s team and network to generate ideas for ending the threat of state biological weapons programs.

Featured Reports & Briefers

A Handbook for Ending Catastrophic Biological Risks
The Next Great Idea in Nuclear Arms Control: Putting the “N” Back in INF
Making Bioweapons Obsolete: A Summary of Workshop Discussions
Weapons Of Mass Destruction: The State Of Global Governance Amid Rising Threats & Emerging Opportunities​
Pathogen Detection, Mapping and Early Warning: Opportunities & Obstacles on the Path Toward Preventing Future Pandemics Discussion



Christine Parthemore, Director

Dr. Natasha Bajema, Senior Fellow

William (Bill) Beaver, Fellow

Andrew Facini, Fellow

Rear Admiral John Gower, CB OBE, Senior Advisor

Dr. Yong-Bee Lim, Deputy Director

Capt. (Ret) John Moulton, Senior Fellow

Hon. Andrew Weber, Senior Fellow


Non-Resident Fellows / Advisors

Catherine Dill, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Council on Strategic Risks

Dr. Ivan Oelrich, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Council on Strategic Risks

Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, Senior Advisor, Council on Strategic Risks

Dr. Stan Wang, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Council on Strategic Risks