Timothy Westmyer is a Senior Project Lead at CRDF Global, an independent nonprofit organization founded in 1995 in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the threat of large-scale proliferation of weapons technology from the region. After bolstering the global scientific community and fostering alternatives to weapons research, the past 25 years has expanded to provide flexible logistical support, program design and management, and strategic capacity building programs in the areas of CBRNE security and nonproliferation, border security, cybersecurity, and other fields. Tim leads CRDF Global's efforts to help partner governments and the private sector build their capacity to implement UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea's WMD program. He previously had a portfolio on nuclear material security and counter nuclear smuggling projects at CRDF Global. Before joining CRDF Global, he was a Research and Program Assistant at the Rising Powers Initiative located at George Washington University where he coordinated a book project on domestic debates in Asia over the risks and rewards of nuclear energy and non-proliferation. Tim has also worked as a Foreign Affairs Assistant at the Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Threat Reduction where he aided U.S. efforts at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit and Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins as she chaired the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Tim has also spent time working at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Senate, the Arms Control Association, and on Joe Biden's 2008 presidential campaign. He was a member of the 2013 Nuclear Scholars Initiative and a 2020 N Square fellow. Since 2016, Tim is the host of the Super Critical Podcast, which explores to portrayal of nuclear weapons in popular culture such as film, television, books, games, music, and more. The podcast aims to be an outlet for nuclear experts to rant about accuracy problems but also a discussion about what each piece of popular culture teaches the public about the dangers of nuclear war and how it can be harnessed by educators and activists to advance a sane nuclear weapons policy. The podcast has been used in teaching curriculum in high school as well as undergraduate and graduate degree programs. His writing has been published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, Center for Security and International Studies, Democracy Arsenal, The Diplomat, Arms Control Today, and other outlets. Mr. Westmyer holds an MA with honors in Security Studies from Georgetown University where his thesis explored the impact of verification considerations on arms control negotiations. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in International Studies, History, and a minor in Asian Studies from the University of Redlands in beautiful California.
What is your area of expertise?
Are you interested in mentoring high school or college students, or both?
How did you become interested in this area?
I started learning about nuclear weapon topics in the early-2000s while doing research for high school team policy debate topic on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Except for a brief moment where I thought that I wanted to teach civil war history, I have been hooked on trying to study and work on projects to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons.
What was your career path to get here?
I was incredibly fortunate to be able to intern at the Arms Control Association while doing a study semester in Washington, DC. This opportunity opened my eyes to the types of careers that were available on nuclear nonproliferation and provided some much needed guidance on how to earn the skills and experience needed to make it work. This is a very difficult field to break into and even then it can be unpredictable. My history working with campaigns, think tanks, academia, government, and NGOs has all built on each other in ways that I did not expect. From talking to my amazing colleagues in the field, I have also learned that there are hundreds of unique pathways to start and advance in the field, so what mattes most is a passion for the topic and putting in the work to make a difference.
Why should the public care?
The threat of nuclear war did not end with the Cold War. While the public does not hear much about nukes these days except for the occasional bad movie plot or something North Korea did, the risk of inadvertent, accidental, or intentional nuclear conflict is higher today than it has ever been. Making progress on addressing nuclear challenges will only happen if there is an engaged and well-informed public as well as smart and driven individuals doing their part to force change.
What is a current issue or trend that concerns you?
The steady collapse of the nonproliferation regime and the arms control framework that has helped keep the peace for half a century gives me constant nightmares. I am also concerned with how the public learns about nuclear weapon issues from popular culture.
Would you be willing to speak to a classroom about your work?Yes
What themes or topics would you be interested in lecturing or discussing with a class?
I am happy to talk about North Korea, sanctions, counterproliferation, nuclear pop culture, nuclear testing, career discussions, nuclear material security, and other topics as interested. If I don't know something (which happens a lot), I can help find someone else who does.