Director, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Potter was trained as a Soviet specialist and wrote his first book on the technology, economics, and politics of nuclear nonproliferation. He soon became fascinated by parallels in Soviet and U.S. nuclear export and nonproliferation policy and the degree of cooperation between the two Cold War adversaries in the sphere of nonproliferation. As such, he was one of the very few scholars knowledgeable about both Soviet affairs and the dangers of nuclear weapons spread when the Soviet Union collapsed. He parlayed that knowledge and an interest in “open source” (unclassified) data collection to build what soon became the largest research and training center on curtailing the spread of weapons of mass destruction in the world—the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS).
He also launched the first major graduate concentration in nonproliferation studies, which subsequently became the MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies. He is best known for his work on disarmament and nonproliferation education, including the use of simulations in pedagogy, and his research on multilateral nuclear negotiations in the context of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). He also has served as a delegate at every NPT Review Conference and Preparatory Committee meeting since 1995. In addition, he has served on numerous committees of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and for five years was a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters.