Professor Philipp Bleek at the Berkeley Forum: Disarming Syria’s Chemical Weapons and Lessons for Reducing Threats Elsewhere

Lecture | February 2 | 6-7:30 p.m. | 110 Boalt Hall, School of Law

 The Berkeley Forum

After Syria’s government breached the international norm against using chemical weapons in 2013, a U.S.-led international coalition pressured the Assad regime to disarm one of the world’s last remaining chemical weapons arsenals. How Washington laid the diplomatic, technical, and procedural groundwork that enabled this modest but important accomplishment, in the context of a broader conflict that otherwise provides little grounds for optimism, is a largely untold story. Professor Philipp C. Bleek, on leave from his faculty position to serve in the Pentagon in 2012 and 2013, will speak about his experience staffing the Syria Chemical Weapons Senior Integration Group and reflect on the past, present, and future of chemical weapons threats. Please join the Berkeley Forum for an enlightening discussion of these important issues.

Philipp C. Bleek is Assistant Professor in the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies Program and Fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, both at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In 2012 and 2013, he served as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Program. In that capacity, he staffed the Syria Chemical Weapons Senior Integration Group, a Pentagon-based, interagency focal point for efforts to prepare for Syrian chemical weapons contingencies. His work focused on engaging international partners, including representing the United States in a White House-led dialogue with the Russian Federation that paved the way for subsequent cooperation. Now back at his faculty position in Monterey, Dr. Bleek recently oversaw a U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency-funded study to apply the lessons of past weapons of mass destruction elimination efforts—including in Syria—to potential future contingencies that might arise in North Korea, with regard to ISIS’ modest but apparently growing capabilities, or elsewhere.

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