The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) formed the Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) in 1980 as a permanent committee to bring the resources of the Academy to bear on critical problems of international security and arms control. CISAC, in the Policy and Global Affairs Division, draws from the nation’s finest scientific, technical, engineering and medical talent to advise the government, contribute to the work of non-governmental organizations, and inform the public about scientific and technical issues related to international security and arms control.
CISAC’s work benefits from a rotating membership of distinguished scientists, policy and military experts. The Committee carries out its mandate through a variety of activities that receive financial support from public and private sponsors.
CISAC’s security dialogues with Russia (since 1981), China (since 1988) and India (since 1999) allow the Committee to address technical and potentially sensitive issues in international security, arms control and disarmament even when official relations are strained. These “Track II” dialogues, built on a foundation of scientist-to-scientist interaction, allow the Committee to sustain links to heads of state, senior parliamentarians and military officers in an international network of science academies and organizations in many countries around the world.
CISAC’s studies offer in-depth analysis and recommendations about crucial security problems. Recent CISAC reports have examined the technology for securing nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive materials, nuclear threat reduction in the former Soviet Union, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, U.S. nuclear weapons policy, management and disposition of fissile materials, biological security threats, and the contribution of science and technology to preventing terrorism. All reports fall under the auspices of the National Research Council study and review process, which ensures the highest standard of scientific and technical quality.
CISAC sponsors public and private workshops, symposia and other activities to encourage discussion and policy debate. Recent topics include: preventing proliferation while expanding nuclear power production, contacts between Chinese and U.S. scientists on security issues, and post-Cold War U.S. nuclear strategy.