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PIR Center Celebrates 95th Anniversary of Amb. Roland Timerbaev

September 27, 2022

The current Russian school of nuclear nonproliferation would never have existed, unless Amb. Timerbaev had shown amazing enthusiasm and perseverance at the very beginning of the 1990s. He infected us (those who were young specialists, if not to recognize honestly that before meeting Timerbaev, most of us were could be merely called specialists in this field ) with discussions about where nonproliferation and disarmament should go, led us – sometimes literally, – by the hand and generously shared his knowledge (and, of course, not only about non-proliferation): first, in hikes on the California Big Sur, then in walks through Manhattan, so familiar to him (passing by 67th Street: “And here is the house I bought for the USSR”), in the midst of a conference on the extension of that cornerstone agreement, which he partially wrote, and finally, in Moscow, Kiev, Tashkent… So this is not only a Russian school: Amb. Timerbaev’s students are all over the former USSR, in the USA, in Europe…

Orlov, Vladimir A.

Today, PIR Center celebrates the 95th anniversary of an outstanding Soviet diplomat, scientist, one of the main mentors of PIR Center for more than 20 years – Amb. Roland Timerbaev. Roland Timerbaev was one of the world’s largest experts in the field of nuclear nonproliferation, a diplomat who made a tremendous contribution to the preparation of the 1968 Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), a key document of the global security system. Among many other achievements of Amb. Timerbaev’s diplomatic work were his participation in the elaboration of decisions on the ABM Treaty, in the preparation of an Agreement on measures to reduce the risk of nuclear war between the USSR and the United States, the Treaty on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapons Tests, in the development of the IAEA safeguards system and in the creation of a Nuclear Suppliers Group. In the 1990s, Roland Timerbaev contributed immensely to the creation of centers for the study of non-proliferation problems and education in the field of non-proliferation in the CIS, having played a huge role in the development of the PIR Center since its inception. He educated and inspired more than one generation of specialists in the fields of nonproliferation, disarmament and arms control, devoting the last 20 years of his life entirely to science and mentorship. From 1994 to 1998, Roland Mikhailovich was the president of the PIR Center, and from 1999 to 2010, he chaired the Executive Board of PIR Center. He also remained a member of the Advisory Board of PIR Center until his last days.

Amb. Timerbaev firmly and unshakably believed in the need for consistent nuclear disarmament. In his latest article The Universe and Nuclear Weapons, written in 2019 and published in the electronic journal Security Index Amb.Timerbaev wrote: “An atomic explosion of even a “tactical” nuclear device can almost inevitably cause a worldwide nuclear catastrophe, which will lead to the end of current life on earth (and to the appearance of more advanced living beings in the future, as has always happened in the course of the development of the Earth and the entire Universe)… Understanding the complete dependence of life on Earth on nuclear weapons inexorably requires further efforts to abandon these weapons.”

The legacy of Roland Timerbaev continues to inspire the PIR Center with new projects and research. Thus, in 2021, the project Oral History of Nuclear Nonproliferation was launched, the purpose of which is to preserve and transmit the historical memory of the role of Russian diplomats and military in shaping the modern architecture of arms control, disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation. Within the framework of this project, PIR Center plans to publish the first volume of Amb. Timerbaev’s selected works, the presentation of which will take place at the final seminar of the project on December 4, 2022 in the Vladimir region. In the future, PIR Center is going to publish two other volumes based on the archive transferred to the PIR Center by the diplomat’s family in 2019 after his death.

В кругу друзей ( из архива)

Some of the archival materials have already been digitized and will be available to students, researchers and anyone interested in the topic of nonproliferation on the new online educational platform – Nonproliferation .World. At the moment, you can get acquainted with the biography of Roland Timerbaev, photo materials reflecting the stages of his professional activity, watch the short film “The Nonproliferation appeal of Amb. Timerbaev” and listen to his interview about the current problems of the nonproliferation regime in the section of the website of the PIR Center Roland Timerbaev: Memory Gallery at the link.

In addition, in 2020, in memory of Amb.Timerbaev, PIR Center launched a new educational project – the International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates, which will be held on an annual basis. They will focus on nuclear nonproliferation, arms control and strategic stability, as well as Russian-American strategic relations and their role for global security. The debates, held in English, will bring together young talents from Russia, the United States and other countries who are ready to contribute to the discussion on strategic issues, to offer new ideas and approaches to strengthening global security. For the last time, the IV International Timerbaev Debates on the topic “Will the World be a Safer Place without nuclear weapons?” held on June 22, 2022 on the sidelines of the XXI International School on Global Security. The next debates are scheduled  on December 4, 2022. in the Vladimir region within the framework of the final seminar on the project Oral History of Nuclear Nonproliferation.

III International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates  were held on November 15, 2021 in Zoom. Students and young specialists in the field of nuclear nonproliferation and global security from such Russian and foreign universities and organizations as MGIMO Russia, MEPhI, Ural Federal University (UrFU), PIR Center, as well as MIIS and CTBTO Youth Group took part in the event.

On June 22, 2022, PIR Center also held the IV International Timerbaev Debates on the topic “Will the World be a Safer Place Without Nuclear Weapons?” on the sidelines of the XXI International School on Global Security. This time the debating teams included representatives exclusively from foreign countries – statesmen, students and researchers from Uzbekistan, Japan, Northern Macedonia, and Azerbaijan. The debates were organized in the format of situational analysis. Dr. Vladimir Kuchinov, Associate Professor of the Department of International Relations at the Institute of International Relations of MEPhI, member of the PIR Center Advisory Board, was invited as a moderator. 

The last X NPT Review Conference showed that Roland Timerbaev’s invaluable contribution to the creation and strengthening of the nonproliferation regime is remembered both in the UN and in the Carnegie Corporation of New York walls, where PIR Center, together with the J. Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, held the IV meeting of the Track 2.5 working group on The topic “Russian-American dialogue on the NPT Review process: the Role of Youth”. Diplomats and scientists from the USA, Brazil, and Great Britain, who were personally acquainted with Roland  Timerbaev, remembered him as a strong-willed and principled personality, a patriarch in nuclear nonproliferation and warmly supported the idea of publishing his selected works.