Monterey Institute of International Studies

William C. Potter

Professor, Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

He has served as a consultant to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the RAND Corporation, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has been a member of several committees of the National Academy of Sciences and currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences Nonproliferation Panel. His present research focuses on nuclear terrorism and forecasting proliferation developments.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy, and served for five years on the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and the Board of Trustees of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research. He currently serves on the International Advisory Board of the Center for Policy Studies in Russia (Moscow).

He was an advisor to the delegation of Kyrgyzstan to the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference and to the 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008 sessions of the NPT Preparatory Committee, as well as to the 2000 and 2005 NPT Review Conferences.


Nuclear nonproliferation, illicit nuclear trafficking, and nuclear terrorism; Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); the International Atomic Energy Agency; the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and nuclear politics; the sources of nuclear weapons decisions; U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control; Nuclear-Weapons- Free Zones (NWFZs); nuclear safety and security; and nuclear disarmament and  nonproliferation education.

Dr. Potter interviewed on Russia Today
Dr. Potter's contribution to the Carnegie Corporation "virtual roundtable" on U.S.-Russian relations


PhD, MA, Political Science, University of Michigan; BA, Political Science, Southern Illinois University


Dr. Potter has contributed chapters and articles to over one hundred scholarly books and journals.


  • Chinese and Russian Perspectives on Achieving Nuclear Zero (2009)
  • Nuclear Profiles of the Soviet Successor States (1993)
  • Soviet Decisionmaking for Chernobyl: An Analysis of System Performance and Policy Change (1990)
  • Nuclear Power and Nonproliferation: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (1982)


  • The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism (2005)
  • Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Options for Control (2000)


  • Verification and SALT: The Challenge of Strategic Deception (1980)
  • Verification and Arms Control (1985)
  • International Nuclear Trade and Nonproliferation (1990)


  • Engaging China and Russia on Nuclear Disarmament (2009)
  • The Global Politics of Combating Nuclear Terrorism: A Supply Side Approach (forthcoming, 2009)
  • Dangerous Weapons, Desperate States (1999)
  • Dismantling the Cold War: U.S. and NIS Perspectives on the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (1997)
  • Soviet Decisionmaking for National Security (1984)
  • The Nuclear Suppliers and Nonproliferation (1985)
  • Continuity and Change in Soviet-East European Relations (1989)
  • International Missile Bazaar: The New Suppliers' Network (1994)
Course List

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

IPOL 8586 - US-Russian START+ Simulation      

This course is a simulation of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reduction talks. Students will assume the roles of U.S. and Russian arms control negotiators representing organizations such as the Department of State, National Security Council, Department of Energy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Strategic Rocket Forces, etc. They will be charged with negotiating a follow-on accord to the "New START Treaty", which was concluded this past spring and is currently being considered for ratification by the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma. It is anticipated that the Monterey negotiation simulation will anticipate and possibly parallel actual U.S.-Russian nuclear negotiations. As the heads and other members of the "real world" delegations often have been involved in CNS/MIIS activities, an effort will be made to engage them directly or indirectly in class deliberations. Dr. Nikolai Sokov, a former Russian arms control negotiator, will assist in the class as will other CNS experts. For a copy of the text negotiated by last year's student negotiators, please see the CNS website.

Fall 2010 - MIIS

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NPTG 8516 / IPOL 8516 - NPT Simulation      

This course is devoted to a simulation of the 2015 NPT Review Conference (RevCon), which will be held in New York in spring 2015. The RevCon will be the culmination of the five-year review process since the 2010 NPT RevCon, and will involve multilateral negotiations on the implementation of the NPT, with special reference to issues of nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Based on the outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and the 2012, 2013, and 2014 NPT Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings, one would expect major debates at the 2015 RevCon on the subjects of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, further reductions in all types of nuclear weapons, creation of additional nuclear-weapon-free zones (especially in the Middle East), negative security assurances, nonproliferation compliance, international safeguards, nuclear terrorism, peaceful nuclear uses, and provisions for withdrawal from the Treaty. Depending on the current state of US-Russian relations following the 2014 crisis in Ukraine, there also may be major debates over the value of virtues of nuclear renunciation and the value of negative security assurances and extended deterrence.

Students will assume the roles of delegates to the PrepCom from ten or more states, possibly including Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, and the United States. In most instances, delegations will consist of two students. The precise number of states will depend on the size of the class.

The base point for the simulation is the “real world.” Dr. William Potter will be the principal instructor. He will be assisted in the course by other CNS experts.

(1) The simulation places a premium on interpersonal skills and oral communication.

(2) Emphasis will be placed on developing analytical and political skills relevant to operation in a foreign ministry and other national and international organization bureaucracies. The written component of the course will entail preparation of concise policy papers and drafting of international legal texts.

(3) Students will be required to immerse themselves in the historical record of prior NPT negotiations, especially those related to the 2010 NPT Review Conference and the 2012, 2013, and 2014 NPT PrepComs.

(4) Students will become familiar with the process of multilateral negotiations, which places a premium on coordinating positions across and gaining consensus from a large number of states with diverse national interests and objectives.

(5) Students will be expected to develop an understanding of the multiple expectations of the NPT regime by various states parties and regional groups, as well as to generate constructive ideas to meet the political challenges facing the NPT today.

Fall 2011 - MIIS, Fall 2012 - MIIS, Fall 2013 - MIIS, Fall 2014 - MIIS

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