Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Raymond A. Zilinskas

Director, Chemical & Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program

What is it that you are most passionate about?

Preventing the use by nations or terrorists of biological and chemical weapons and should this fail, have done what I can about local, state, federal, and international authorities being well prepared to meet the challenges posed by such events.

What do you enjoy most about teaching and/or what excites you about being a professor at MIIS?

Having highly motivated students who get deeply involved in what I am passionate about and who therefore tend to enter professions in which they can use their newly acquired knowledge and skills to realize biological and chemical arms control.

After graduating from California State University at Northridge with a BA in Biology (1962), and from University of Stockholm with a Filosofie Kandidat in Organic Chemistry (1963), Dr. Zilinskas worked as a clinical microbiologist for 16 years before commencing graduate studies at the University of Southern California. His doctoral dissertation addressed policy issues generated by recombinant DNA research, including the applicability of genetic engineering techniques to biological weapons development. After earning a Ph.D. in 1982, Dr. Zilinskas worked at the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment (1982 - 1983), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (1983 - 1986), and the Center for Public Issues in Biotechnology, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. In addition, while at Maryland he was an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of International Health, School of Hygiene and Public Health, the Johns Hopkins University.

In 1993, Dr. Zilinskas was appointed a William Foster Fellow at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), where he worked on biological and toxin warfare issues. In April 1994, ACDA seconded Dr. Zilinskas to the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) for seven months, during which time he participated in two biological warfare-related inspections in Iraq (June and October 1994) encompassing 61 biological research and production facilities. At UNSCOM headquarters, he set up a database containing data about key dual-use biological equipment in Iraq and developed a protocol to guide UNSCOM's on-going monitoring and verification program in the biological field.

After the fellowship ended, Dr. Zilinskas returned to the Center for Public Issues in Biotechnology and Johns Hopkins University. In addition, he became a long-term consultant to ACDA (which now is part of the U.S Department of State), for which he carried out studies on Cuban allegations of U.S. biological attacks against its people, animals, and plants and investigations carried out by the United Nations of chemical warfare in Southeast Asia and the Arabian Gulf region. Dr. Zilinskas remains to this day a consultant to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense.

On September 1, 1998, Dr. Zilinskas began working as a Senior Scientist in Residence at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Monterey, CA. His research focuses on achieving effective biological arms control, the proliferation potential of the former Soviet Union's biological warfare program, and meeting the threat of bioterrorism. He also is a Research Professor at the Graduate School of International Politics at MIIS, where he teaches courses on biological and chemical weapons and arms control and emerging issues in international public health.

Dr. Zilinskas' book Biological Warfare: Modern Offense and Defense, which provides a definitive account on how modern biotechnology has qualitatively changed developments related to biological weapons and defense, was published in 1999 by Lynne Rienner Publishers. He also is co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Bioterrorism Defense, the first edition was published in the summer of 2005 by Wiley and Sons, and the second edition in 2011. He is a co-author of a book on the former Soviet Union's biological warfare program, including its history, organization, intent, and accomplishments, which was published by Harvard University Press in July 2012.


Clinical microbiology, organic chemistry, international law and mores related to biological and chemical arms control, preparedness and response to biological and chemical emergencies


Earned BA (Biology) from California State University at Northridge, Filosofie Kandidat (Organic Chemistry) from University of Stockholm, Sweden, and Ph.D. (International Relations) from University of Southern California.

Recent Accomplishments

  • In August 2014, finished manuscript for the monograph “We Need to Hit Hard”: Saddam’s Use of Chemical Weapons against Revolutionary Iran and Rebellious Iraqi Kurds," which is currently being considered for publication by several presses. Unlike previous publications that focus on Iraq’s acquisition and employment of chemical weapons, the basis for much of the information in this monograph is the cache of captured Iraqi government documents, audio tapes, and video tapes stored at the Conflict Records Research Center in the National Defense University.

  • I worked on (with co-editors Casey Mahoney and James Toppin) an edited monograph on the history of the anti-plague system in the U.S.S.R. and Russia titled Stories of the Soviet Anti-Plague System, which was published in autumn 2013.

  • Completed a book on which I had been working on for 11 years: Milton Leitenberg and Raymond A. Zilinskas, The Soviet Biological Weapons Program: A History, (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2012).

  • Wrote a film review for the first time: Raymond A. Zilinskas, “Contagion: A Movie Pandemic Versus the Reality of Public Health,” WMD Junction, September 23, 2011; www.nonproliferation.org.

  • Collated 132 entries to create a unique reference source: Rebecca Katz and Raymond A. Zilinskas (eds.), Encyclopedia of Bioterrorism Defense, 2nd Edition, (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2011).

  • Had an article published in Scientific American: Ken Coleman and Raymond A. Zilinskas, “Fake Botox, Real Threat,” Scientific American 302(6):84-89 (June 2010).

Course List

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

NPTG 8529 - TabletopExerciseDesign&Operatn      

A tabletop exercise (TTX) is a guided discussion of a scenario—a time-compressed sequence of events—that facilitates group problem solving. TTXs are particularly advantageous to governmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as private businesses because they permit participants to practice response to high-consequence/low-frequency problems. Based on results from a TTX, organizations can develop new plans, or enhance existing plans, for how they will meet the challenges of catastrophic events such as floods and fires, disease outbreaks, sabotage of facilities, and others. Public agencies and private sector entities alike have to ensure business and service continuity, as well as protecting the safety and security of employees, during times of duress, and thus all can benefit from testing their preparedness and response plans using TTXs. Given their utility in illuminating anticipated performance, expectations, and assumptions, TTXs can be also useful in many other situations that would benefit from enhancing teamwork and multi-agency collaboration while assessing the content of plans and policies. Following successful completion of this workshop, students will be able to plan, execute, and evaluate a TTX, as well as make appropriate decisions regarding when and where it is an applicable tool for planning and response purposes.

This workshop includes a tabletop exercise discussion demonstration activity. Students with a special interest in or an aversion to the topic are advised that the Spring 2017 scenario for this activity will be an active shooter event on the MIIS campus.<B>

Spring 2017 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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NPTG 8684 - Sem:Bio&ChemWeapons&ArmsCntrl      

During the last 35 years, accusations have been made that various nations and terrorists have employed biological, chemical, and toxin weapons in international warfare, internal conflicts, or terrorist operations. Most prominently, in the 1980s the UN found conclusive evidence that Iraq has used chemical weapons against Iran and, eventually, Iran answered in kind. Twenty-seven years later, Syria used chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians. Returning to Iraq, in addition to its chemical weapons, Iraq had a sizeable biological weapons program; and the Soviet Union secretly instituted the world’s largest and most sophisticated biological warfare program before its dissolution in late 1991. As for terrorism, the Aum Shinrikyo developed and used both biological and chemical weapons during 1991-1995; while scientist Bruce Ivens appears to have sent envelopes containing Bacillus anthracis spores to various public figures during September-October 2001; and the al Qaeda leadership has made clear that it seeks to acquire all types of weapons of mass destruction. In view of these developments, security experts active in the international arena ought to be familiar with the health and environmental effects of these weapons, circumstances which favor their use, the international laws that seek to prevent these weapons from being used and, when laws fail, how to determine whether one of these three weapon systems has indeed been used and the appropriate response to their use.

Fall 2016 - MIIS, Spring 2018 - MIIS

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