Status: Open

PIR Center Remembers Roland Timerbaev, Today He Would Have Turned 94 Years Old

September 27, 2021

MOSCOW, September 27, 2021. PIR Press. “Roland Mikhailovich Timerbaev was a mentor, friend and teacher for several generations of Russian diplomatic workers, one of the largest and most authoritative experts in the world on the problems of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear arms control. The scientific, creative and political legacy of the talented scientist and teacher, the warm and bright memories of his grateful students and followers will forever remain in our memory”, – First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Sergey Kislyak said.

On September 27, 1927, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Roland Mikhailovich Timerbaev was born. A man who, until the last days of his life, inspired us, with whom we, the “PIRovets”, regularly “checked the clock”. Roland Timerbaev was one of the world’s leading experts in the field of nuclear nonproliferation, a diplomat who made a huge contribution to the preparation of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), a key document of the global security system. In one of his last interviews for Yaderny Kontrol in 2017, Ambassador Timerbaev said: “It is absolutely necessary to reduce [nuclear arsenals], because it will never be used. And it doesn’t even matter how much, the most important thing is to continue, for 500, 300 or 200, so that the process continues. I would also, of course, like our leaders to say that we need to move towards a complete ban, and any efforts on this path are welcome — even without mentioning the Ban Treaty — any activity in the spirit of article six of the NPT is useful.”

A member of the PIR Center Executive Board, Colonel-General Yevgeny Maslin described Roland Timerbaev as follows: “Unlike many, R. M. Timerbaev knows very deeply what he is talking about. Moreover, not only deeply, but also widely. And when people have such deep knowledge, they naturally formulate their thoughts very well, very clearly, concretely.”

Among many other achievements of Roland Timerbaev’s diplomatic work was his participation in the development 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. Also, R. M. Timerbaev was an active initiator of the development 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. 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.

Roland Mikhailovich devoted dreams and insights, knowledge and sleepless nights to preventing the extermination of humanity. “Nuclear weapons, as a kind of means that contributes to the development of the Universe, also appeared on Earth for a reason. Apparently, it is only wrong to call it a “weapon”. After all, a weapon is a tool or mechanism created in order to win a war or defend against the enemy, and a nuclear “weapon” cannot lead its owner to victory or provide defense against the enemy. No, a nuclear explosive device is designed to destroy all obsolete or obsolete living things and enable the emergence of a new one that can ensure the further development of a particular element and the entire universe as a whole,” R. M. Timerbaev wrote about the role of nuclear weapons in world history in his works.

In 2019, the family of Ambassador Timerbaev donated his research and diplomatic archive to PIR Center. It contains both his own notes, papers and workbooks, as well as a significant collection of monographs, periodicals and other materials in Russian and English, dedicated to the topic of WMD nonproliferation and global security, everything that he himself used in his work, and that furnishes the exact proofs of his high professionalism and wisdom. Maintenance and promotion of Ambassador Timerbaev’s Memory are one of the top priorities for PIR Center and all the people involved in nuclear nonproliferation.

Some of the archival materials have already been scanned and will be available for students, researchers and everyone interested in nonproliferation on PIR Center’s new online platform for education and training Nonproliferation.World. At the moment, you can read the biography of Roland Timerbaev, look through photo materials reflecting the stages of his professional activities, watch the short film «Nonproliferation appeal of R.М. Timerbaev» and listen to his interview on the topical issues of the nonproliferation regime in the section of PIR Center website «Roland Timerbaev: Memory Gallery» via link.

To commemorate Ambassador Timerbaev, this indisputable authority, teacher, and mentor, PIR Center has launched a new great project Timerbaev Nuclear Debates. AnnualTimerbaev Nuclear Debates will be dedicated to such topics as nuclear nonproliferation, arms control, and strategic stability issues, as well as US-Russian strategic relations and their role in global security. Being held in English, the Debates will bring together young talents from Russia, the USA and other countries, who are ready to contribute to the discussion on strategic issues and are able to produce new ideas and approaches on how to improve the global security environment.

In 2020, 2 pilot sessions of the Timerbaev Nuclear Debates were held. On September 27, 2020, the I Timerbaev Nuclear Debates were held within the framework of the XX Anniversary International PIR Center School on Global Security. The key topic of the debates was “Will the world be more secure without nuclear weapons?” On November 27, 2020, the II Timerbayev Nuclear Debates were held within the framework of the MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center Dual Degree M.A. Program Global Security, Nuclear Policy and WMD Nonproliferation. The focus of the discussion was on whether the Treaty on the Prohibition of nuclear weapons contributes to the strengthening of the nuclear nonproliferation regime or diminishes it. Please find more on Timerbaev Nuclear Debates here.

We are pleased to announce that the III Timerbayev Nuclear Debates will be held on November 15. This year they will bring together students and young specialists in the field of global security from Russia and foreign countries, from domestic and foreign universities and international organizations. Agenda of the III Timerbayev Nuclear Debates will be closely related to the project of PIR Center Unthinkable. Debaters will be discussing mid-term threats to the nuclear nonproliferation regime from particular states. «Thoughts about the unthinkable… about the fact that some state (maybe even a Russian neighbor country), which, perhaps, has never even been caught nurturing its nuclear ambitions before, suddenly starts developing a nuclear weapon. Tell the names of these candidates!», – comments Founder & Director of PIR Center Vladimir Orlov. III Timerbayev Nuclear Debates will let us work out scenarios in which new nuclear states may appear. 

Representatives of the PIR Center Alumni Community will also be involved in III Timerbayev Nuclear Debates, including graduates of the Dual Degree M.A. Program in Nonproliferation Studies, who currently work in government and research institutions in Russia and abroad. So, they will be invited as moderators and mentors of debating teams.

PIR Center expects that participants and young experts of the Timerbaev Nuclear Debates will form the Timerbaev Nuclear Debates Student Club, which will become a platform for discussing key issues of global security and will contribute to fostering a new generation of experts in nuclear nonproliferation.