International Initiative Aims to Help Countries Halt Spread of WMDs

UAlbany Associate Professor Bryan R. Early Leads Effort to Provide Proactive Strategic Trade Control Assistance

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 25, 2015) -- University at Albany Associate Professor Bryan R. Early sees the development of proactive trade control policies as the key to halting the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Early and his team at the Project on International Security, Commerce & Economic Statecraft (PISCES) are collaborating to provide strategic trade control assistance to countries in the Western Balkans and Central Asia, as well as Taiwan, Ukraine, and Sri Lanka.

Bryan Early Pisces Team at UAlbany
The PISCES team: (Top row, left to right) Bryan Early, Jay Nash (Lower row, left to right) Richard Young, Lara Howe, and Ryan Cathie

With the spread of ISIS, and the continued threat of al-Qaeda and similar terror organizations, halting the spread of WMDs and WMD-related materials is critical to preventing future, more deadly attacks on innocent civilians.

The goal is to help these nations build effective trade control systems for the handling of potentially dangerous strategic items or conventional weapons. Early, an associate professor of political science at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, will lead the development of training seminars for government officials that highlight WMD proliferation threats. Early and his team will also present on the basic and advanced elements of strategic trade control systems; international efforts to prevent WMD proliferation; and international best practices for administering and enforcing strategic trade controls.

The work is being supported by $1.1 million in grants from the U.S. Department of State through the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program. The program was designed to prevent the proliferation of WMDs by helping to build effective national strategic trade control systems in countries that possess, produce, or supply strategic items, as well as in countries through which such items are most likely to transit.

The U.S. Government has had a long-running set of programs going back to the fall of the Soviet Union in which it has sought to help countries impose more stringent domestic international controls on their nuclear technology and other WMD-related technologies. The EXBS program has been providing assistance in terms of funding, equipment and resources at national borders, as well as training and outreach to foreign government representatives.

"Our goal is to relay to officials how they can create more effective laws, regulations, and oversight agencies to help regulate trade in items and technologies that have use in traditional military or WMD-related technology, such as nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons," said Early. "Making improvements is a slow, sustained process that requires long-term engagement over time. As our team is having a longer-term presence in some of these regions, I think we’re going to be seeing those types of improvements start to add up."

As the director of the Center for Policy Research at Rockefeller College and the founding director of PISCES, Early has served as principal investigator on 32 grant awards totaling nearly $4.6 million. The projects have provided strategic trade control assistance to countries in South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The $1.1 million includes funding for four new grants and additional support for two existing projects that Early has been leading in the Ukraine and Taiwan.

An expert on economic sanctions, strategic trade controls, and the proliferation of nuclear and aerospace technology, Early’s research often addresses policy issues at the crossroads of economic and security. His book Busted Sanctions: Explaining Why Economic Sanctions Fail (Stanford University Press, 2015) offers the first comprehensive account of how other countries around the world have used trade and foreign to undercut U.S. sanctions.

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