Robert E. Berls, Jr., PhD

Senior Advisor on Russia and Eurasia

Robert Berls serves as a senior advisor in the Nuclear Security Project. Having joined NTI in its first year, Berls has directed or helped manage all of NTI's projects in Russia that have addressed nuclear, chemical and biological threats.

Among other projects, he led the NTI initiative at Russia's SarovLabs, part of a U.S.-Russian effort to find new commercial avenues for the former Soviet Union's "Nuclear Cities" which supported the country's nuclear weapons complex. NTI helped the lab develop international marketing capabilities, which led to a multifold increase in revenue and staff size, ensuring there were alternatives to seeking work that could contribute to global proliferation. He also managed NTI's role to fund high-priority infrastructure development for the Shchuch'ye Chemical Weapons Destruction Facility in Siberia, to help Russia meet its goal to destroy all chemical weapons by 2012.

Berls represented NTI on the Carnegie Endowment's Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (EASI), a high-level international commission addressing Euro-Atlantic security needs for the twenty-first century. Berls served as executive director of an EASI working group on missile defense. NTI co-chairman and chief executive officer, former Senator Sam Nunn, served as an EASI co-chair.

Berls has been instrumental in establishing and managing the Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security (YGLN) -- a capacity-building initiative established by NTI in 2014 that is designed to foster dialogue among young emerging leader from the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Europe on contemporary challenges facing the Euro-Atlantic region. He is also co-author with his colleague Leon Ratz of a series of NTI Papers on “Rising Nuclear Dangers.”

Berls' career spans military, government, academia and business. He served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of colonel. During the 1980s he served as air attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. He served as special assistant to the Secretary of Energy for Russia/NIS programs, during the first Clinton Administration.

His academic credentials include teaching positions at the National War College, National Defense University and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Before joining NTI, he was vice president for business development and government relations for a U.S. oil company.

Berls holds a doctorate in Russian area studies from Georgetown University, a master's degree in Soviet Studies from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree in Russian Area Studies from Colgate University. He speaks Russian fluently.

Analysis

Rising Nuclear Dangers: Steps to Reduce Risks in the Euro-Atlantic

International statesmen Des Browne, Wolfgang Ischinger, Igor Ivanov, and Sam Nunn call on Western and Russian leaders to take immediate steps to reduce the risk of a dangerous military confrontation. This report offers recommendations to avoid accidents, enhance predictability, and build confidence between the West and Russia.

Rising Nuclear Dangers: Assessing the Risk of Nuclear Use in the Euro-Atlantic Region

Based on a survey of experts from Russia, Europe and the United States, the report finds that the risk of nuclear weapons use in the Euro-Atlantic region is on the rise--and it is higher than it has ever been since the end of the Cold War. These leading security experts identify the top factors contributing to the heightened risk.

Avoiding Catastrophic Nuclear Terrorism: Lessons Learned

Findings and recommendations from an NTI-sponsored “tabletop exercise” simulating a crisis involving seizures of kilogram-quantities of weapons-usable nuclear material. The report is in Russian and English.

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Projects

President Barack Obama with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at bilateral meeting, Winfield House, London, April 1, 2009.

Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (EASI)

The Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (EASI) was a high-level international commission with a unique goal to lay the intellectual foundation for an inclusive Euro-Atlantic security system for the twenty-first century.
Younger Gen Task Force

Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security

Launched in 2014, the Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security (YGLN) is a project aimed at fostering dialogue and understanding among emerging leaders from the United States, Russia, Ukraine and Europe in order to rebuild trust and offer fresh ideas on how to improve the Euro-Atlantic security environment.
Ivanov at TTX

Nuclear Smuggling: A US-Russia Exercise

An NTI-sponsored table-top exercise convened former US and Russian government officials to respond to a fictional nuclear smuggling event involving the seizure of a significant quantity of weapons-usable nuclear material.
Lancaster House-NSP

Building Mutual Security in the Euro-Atlantic Region

A Track II dialogue among distinguished former senior political leaders, senior military officers, defense officials, and security experts from Europe, Russia, and the United States
Russia's Nuclear Doctrine Map

New Opportunities for Russia's Closed Cities

NTI supported model projects in Russia’s closed nuclear cities to help prevent the spread of nuclear knowledge by creating non-defense-related jobs for those with knowledge of sophisticated weapons design and materials handling practices.