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Jonathan B. Tucker


Photo: Link Nicoll

Jonathan Brin Tucker, a New Atlantis contributor, was an expert in arms control and nonproliferation policy, specializing in chemical and biological weapons. He served in the U.S. government in several capacities, including as a biological-weapons inspector in Iraq in the 1990s. He also worked at several think tanks and advocacy groups, including the Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Mr. Tucker studied biology as an undergraduate at Yale, and earned a Ph.D. in political science from M.I.T. He was the author of three books and the editor of three others. He also wrote and edited many articles and reports, both for expert and lay readers.

“By many accounts,” said his obituary in the Washington Post, “Dr. Tucker possessed a scientist’s probing mind and a policy wonk’s fluency on national security issues. These traits earned him a trusted reputation on Capitol Hill and made him a key source to journalists seeking a credible opinion on biological and chemical weapons.”

Remembrances and Obituaries

In The New Atlantis

Could Terrorists Exploit Synthetic Biology?

Number 31 ~ Spring 2011

The Future of Chemical Weapons

Number 26 ~ Fall 2009 - Winter 2010

The Promise and Perils of Synthetic Biology

Number 12 ~ Spring 2006


  • Innovation, Dual Use, and Security: Managing the Risks of Emerging Biological and Chemical Technologies (MIT Press, 2012)
  • War of Nerves: Chemical Warfare from World War I to Al-Qaeda (Pantheon, 2006)
  • Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox (Atlantic, 2001)
  • Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, editor (MIT, 2000)
  • Germany in Transition: A Unified Nation’s Search for Identity, editor with Gale A. Mattox and Geoffrey D. Oliver (Westview, 1999)
  • Ellie: A Child’s Fight Against Leukemia (Henry Holt & Co., 1982)

  • Other Publications

  • “Re-envisioning the Chemical Weapons Convention,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 2, 2011
  • “Growing Together: Biological and Chemical Threats: The Convergence of Biology and Chemistry and its Implications for Arms Control,” Science Progress, February 2, 2011
  • “Is Washington Prepared to Lead at the BWC Review Conference?,” Arms Control Today, January/February 2011
  • “Double-Edged DNA: Preventing the Misuse of Gene Synthesis,” Issues in Science and Technology, March 21, 2010
  • “Addressing the Spectrum of Biological Risks: A Policy Agenda for the United States,” James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, March 18, 2010
  • “Iraq Faces Major Challenges in Destroying Its Legacy Chemical Weapons,” James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, March 4, 2010
  • “Tracing an Attack: The Promise and Pitfalls of Microbial Forensics,” Survival, February-March 2010
  • “Seeking Biosecurity Without Verification: The New U.S. Strategy on Biothreats,” Arms Control, January-February 2010
  • “The Four Faces of Microbial Forensics,” Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science, December 2009
  • “The Rollback of Libya’s Chemical Weapons,” The Nonproliferation Review, October 14, 2009
  • “A Pox on Smallpox” (Review of Smallpox — The Death of a Disease: The Inside Story of Eradicating a Worldwide Killer by D.A. Henderson), Issues in Science and Technology, Fall 2009
  • “Developing Medical Countermeasures: From BioShield to BARDA,” Drug Development Research, June 2009
  • “Getting Chemical Weapons Destruction Back on Track,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 27, 2009
  • “Can the Bomb be Banned?” (Review of The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger by Jonathan Schell), Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2009
  • “Strategies to Prevent Bioterrorism: Biosecurity Policies in the United States and Germany,” in Biosecurity: Origins, Transformations and Practices (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)
  • “Trafficking Networks for Chemical Weapons Precursors: Lessons from the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s,” James Martin Center for Nonproliferations Studies, November 2008
  • “Polio Eradication: The Road to Global Pathogen Security?,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 30, 2008
  • “The Body’s Own Bioweapons,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March/April 2008
  • “Dual Use Dangers: Biotechnology and Global Security Are Intertwined,” Science Progress, October 16, 2007
  • “Protein Engineering: Security Implications,” EMBO Reports, July 2006
  • “The Real Chemical Threat,” Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2006
  • “Tilting at Warheads” (Review of The Future of Arms Control by Michael A. Levi and Michael E. O’Hanlon), Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2005
  • “Unconventional Weapons” (Review of Ultimate Security: Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction, ed. Janne E. Nolan, Bernard L. Finel, and Brian D. Finlay), Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2004
  • “The BCW New Process: A Preliminary Assessment,” The Nonproliferation Review, Spring 2004
  • “Strategies for Countering Terrorism: Lessons from the Israeli Experience,” Homeland Security, March 2003
  • “Limiting the Contribution of the Open Scientific Literature to the Biological Weapons Threat,” Defense Threat Reduction Agency, December 2002
  • The Conduct of Challenge Inspections Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, editor (Center for Nonproliferation Studies, August 2002)
  • The 1971 Smallpox Epidemic in Aralsk, Kazakhstan, and the Soviet Biological Warfare Program, editor with Raymond A. Zilinska (Center for Nonproliferation Studies, July 2002)
  • “A Farewell to Germs: The U.S. Renunciation of Biological and Toxin Warfare, 1969-70,” International Security, Summer 2002
  • “Regulating Scientific Research of Potential Relevance to Biological Warfare” in After 9/11: Preventing Mass-Destruction Terrorism and Weapons Proliferation (Center for Nonproliferation Studies, May 2002)
  • “Putting Teeth in the Biological Weapons Convention,” Issues in Science and Technology, April 9, 2002
  • “Chemical and Biological Terrorism: How Real a Threat?,” Current History, April 2002
  • “In the Shadow of Anthrax: Strengthening the Biological Disarmament Regime,” The Nonproliferation Review, Spring 2002
  • “Preventing the Proliferation of Chemical and Biological Weapon Materials and Know-How,” The Nonproliferation Review, Spring 2002
  • The Chemical Weapons Convention: Implementation Challenges and Solutions, editor (Center for Nonproliferation Studies, April 2001)
  • “The ‘Yellow Rain’ Controversy and Lessons for Arms Control Compliance,” The Nonproliferations Review, Spring 2001
  • “Chemical and Biological Weapons” in Repairing the Regime: Preventing the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction (Routledge, 2000)
  • “Averting Failure of the Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Regime,” Center for Nonproliferation Studies, November 1999
  • “Historical Trends Related to Bioterrorism: An Empirical Analysis,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, July-August 1999
  • “An Unlikely Threat,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 1, 1999
  • Foreword to Former Soviet Biological Weapons Facilities in Kazakhstan: Past, Present, and Future (Center for Nonproliferation Studies, July 1999)
  • “Asymmetric Warfare,” Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy, Summer 1999
  • “Weapons Spreading,” The Washington Post, May 28, 1999
  • “Bioweapons from Russia: Stemming the Flow,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, April 9, 1999
  • “Biological Weapons in the Former Soviet Union: An Interview With Dr. Kenneth Alibek,” The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1999
  • “Biological Warfare” (Review of The Biology of Doom: The History of America’s Secret Germ Warfare Project by Ed Regis), Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 1999
  • “Bioterrorism: Threats and Responses” in Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat (MIT, 1999)
  • “Should This Killer Be Put to Death?” The Washington Post, November 30, 1998
  • “Verifying a Multilateral Ban on Nuclear Weapons: Lessons from the CWC,” The Nonproliferation Review, Winter 1998
  • “National Health and Medical Services Response to Incidents of Chemical and Biological Terrorism,” Policy Perspectives, August 6, 1997
  • “Evidence Iraq Used Chemical Weapons During the 1991 Persian Gulf War,” The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1997
  • The Utility of Sampling and Analysis for Compliance Monitoring of the Biological Weapon Convention, editor (Monterey Institute of International Studies, 1997)
  • “Converting Former Soviet Chemical Weapons Plants,” The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1996
  • “Monitoring and Verification in a Noncooperative Environment: Lessons from the UN Experience in Iraq,” The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1996
  • “Remote Monitoring of Dual-Capable Biological Facilities in Iraq,” Politics and the Life Sciences, August 1995
  • “Saddam’s Toxic Arsenal: Chemical and Biological Weapons in the Gulf Wars” in Cultivating a Landscape of Peace: Iroquois-European Encounters in Seventeenth-Century America (Cornell, 1995)
  • “Dilemmas of a Dual-Use Technology: Toxins in Medicine and Warfare,” Politics and the Life Sciences, February 1994
  • “Lessons of Iraq’s Biological Warfare Programme,” Arms Control/Contemporary Security Policy, December 1993
  • “Partners and Rivals: A Model of International Collaboration in Advanced Technology,” International Organization, Winter 1991
  • “In Ethiopia, Food is a Weapon,” The Nation, August 2, 1986
  • “Amaranth: The Once and Future Crop,” BioScience, January 1986
  • “The Politics of Famine and Ethiopia,” The Nation, January 19, 1985
  • “Schistomiasis and Water Projects: Breaking the Link” in Global Ecology (Sinauer Associates, 1985)
  • “Gene Wars,” Foreign Policy, Winter 1984-1985
  • “The Palestinians of Africa?,” The Nation, September 15, 1984
  • “Biochips — Can Molecules Compute?,” High Technology, February 1984