The National Defense University stood up the Center for Counterproliferation Research in the summer of 1994 at the request of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Since its inception, the Center has been at the forefront of research on the impact of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on U.S. national security. Under the leadership of its founding director, Ambassador Robert Joseph, the Center originally focused on threats to U.S. military forces, assisting the services in developing doctrine to operate in WMD environments, and examining the issue of adversary use of such weapons.

Since that time, the Center has expanded the scope of its activities, pursuing ambitious initiatives in research, education, and outreach, applying its expertise to the new challenges of homeland defense and security. The Center has also remained in the vanguard on emerging issues, such as the future of nuclear deterrence, counterproliferation operations, and WMD elimination. Through its education and outreach programs, particularly its combating WMD course, the Center enhances awareness of the WMD threat in the next generation of military and civilian leaders as related to defense and homeland security policy, programs, technology and operations. Also as part of its outreach efforts, in May 2001, director Dr. John Reichart inaugurated the Center’s annual symposia series, bringing together experts and participants from throughout the government and private sector.

Recognizing the Center’s significant contributions to national security and defense, in a major policy address at the National Defense University on February 11, 2004, President George W. Bush commended the Center’s work in providing “insight into the dangers of a new era.”

With the Center having expanded beyond its original mission, it became clear during the Center’s 10th Anniversary year that it had outgrown the narrow definition of its original name. In September 2004, the Center formally changed its name to the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which more accurately reflects the broad range of the Center’s activities.