CISAC’s dialogues are based on two fundamental rationales that define the committee’s approach. First, nongovernmental channels of communication play a critical role in building and sustaining cooperative approaches to international security. Second, scientists can make a unique contribution to such nongovernmental activities, particularly those that engage countries where official relations are or have been adversarial, because of the special relevance and non-ideological character of the scientific and technological facts underlying many international security questions.
CISAC’s original purpose was to create a forum for discussion between Soviet and American scientists, retired military leaders, and policy experts who could then brief their governments, providing a channel of communication during a time of extraordinary tension in official relations. The dialogue has grown, transformed, and adapted to the needs and opportunities of the times, addressing different topics through a variety to mechanisms, sometimes spinning off workshops and joint consensus studies. CISAC's counterpart group is the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). The Russia dialogue currently engages experts through the RAS, RAS institutes, and other institutions to address technical aspects of strategic stability, ballistic missile defense, space security, conventional long-range precision weapons, cyber security, and cooperation on nonproliferation measures. Past discussions have addressed warhead monitoring, the lifecycle of a nuclear weapon, and biosecurity issues, among others. Joint activities have addressed internationalization of the nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear security cooperation, and related topics. See, for example, Internationalization of the Civilian Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges, and the Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015, and other relevant works in ‘Publications.’
CISAC's dialogue in China was the first and remains one of the few sustained bilateral channels of nongovernmental communication on international and regional security issues with an important set of Chinese scientists and policy analysts. CISAC works with the Chinese Scientists Group on Arms Control (CSGAC) as well as the Chinese Biological Scientists Group (CBSG). These groups convene Chinese experts from the scientific, military, and policy establishments in China solely for engaging CISAC. Full bilateral meetings normally alternate between the United States and China and the groups hold smaller periodic seminars in China to permit discussion of issues in greater depth and detail. These dialogues have three distinct engagements:
(1) nuclear doctrine, nonproliferation, arms control, verification, and delivery systems
(2) Cyber security, military applications, and crisis management; with cyber military institutes.
(3) Biosafety, biosecurity, and infectious disease research; with virology experts in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China CDC, and Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences.
See also the English-Chinese Chinese-English Nuclear Security Glossary, which led directly to the P5 Glossary.
CISAC's India dialogue is organized with the National Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bangalore and began with the visit of an Academy delegation to India in January 1998. CISAC also works with the Indian National Science Academy and other organizations that draw experts from across India. . The India dialogue includes nuclear safety and security, space security, and cyber security, engaging experts through the National Institute for Advanced Studies and others. CISAC and Indian partners have also convened workshops on emerging infectious disease, biosafety, and biosecurity; science and technology for countering terrorism; and nuclear materials security, with experts from U.S. and Indian laboratories, universities, and institutes.
See also: Science and Technology to Counter Terrorism: Proceedings of an Indo-U.S. Workshop