The proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, advanced conventional weapons, and related materials, technologies, and expertise presents a grave threat to the security of the United States and to international peace.

North Korea, for instance, pursues nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of its international obligations, worsening threats to the United States and our allies, destabilizing Northeast Asia, and increasing the risk of nuclear war. The Iranian regime develops ever more capable ballistic missiles and proliferates them to regional proxies and terrorist forces; its potential to resume work on nuclear weapons is a threat to us and our partners. That other states may follow their lead in proliferation is an enduring challenge.

Terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qa’ida also seek access to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technology, and both ISIS and the Assad regime in Syria have used WMD. Syria, Russia, and Iran are also working to erode the institutions that underpin global nonproliferation and weapons elimination achievements. Geopolitical rivalry also fuels proliferation. Russia and China have increasingly potent and diverse WMD and missile arsenals, and they provide advanced arms to partners and proxies in various regions.

– Assistant Secretary Christopher A. Ford

Our Mission

The Bureau is dedicated to three mutually-reinforcing efforts:

(1) Strengthening nonproliferation regimes:

ISN uses bilateral and multilateral diplomacy to prevent proliferation; to promote the highest possible standards of nuclear safety, security, and safeguards worldwide; and to ensure effective nonproliferation protections in civil-nuclear cooperation programs;

(2) Shaping the security environment:

ISN shapes the security environment to reduce WMD-related threats by promoting regional security and deterrence initiatives and strategic stability dialogues, implementing counterproliferation efforts and policies, vigorously enforcing WMD-related sanctions, and using sanctions pressures and diplomatic outreach to undermine destabilizing Russian arms trade and intelligence partnerships; and

(3) Counter-threat programming:

ISN develops and administers capacity-building and other programs and initiatives to reduce proliferation risks, improve export controls, counter nuclear smuggling, keep WMD out of the hands of terrorists, improve nuclear safety and security around the world, and address urgent threat-reduction and weapons-elimination challenges worldwide.

Our Organization

The ISN bureau consists of three main organizational components, each managed at the Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) level. Each DAS reports directly to Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Ford, who runs ISN and reports to the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, the Deputy Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State. The ISN Office of the Executive Director (ISN/EX), headed by Sonna Stampone, reports to Assistant Secretary Ford. ISN’s Chief of Staff is Hailey Robbins.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) Eliot Kang serves as DAS for Multilateral Affairs, overseeing the five ISN offices or staffs principally charged with advancing U.S. Government efforts to strengthen nonproliferation regimes. The regimes are the institutions through which ISN leads international efforts to establish and strengthen nonproliferation and related international security institutions and practices.

  • The Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs (MNSA) is run by Office Director Kurt Kessler (who also coordinates the ISN Iran task force described below) formulates and directs U.S. policy related to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the International Atomic Energy Agency, safeguards on excess fissile material, and other multilateral nuclear issues such as fissile material production moratoria and the various international security challenges presented by Iran’s nuclear program.
  • Nuclear Energy, Safety, and Security (NESS), run by Office Director James Warden, develops U.S. policy on peaceful nuclear cooperation, the future of the international fuel cycle, nuclear safety, export controls, and the physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities.
  • Missile, Biological, and Chemical Nonproliferation (MBC), run by Office Director Pamela Durham, leads our efforts in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC) to combat the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering, impedes proliferation of chemical and biological weapons (via the Australia Group), and coordinates interdictions, key aspects of national security export control and visa implementation, and related sanctions.
  • Conventional Arms Threat Reduction (CATR), run by Acting Office Director Renee Sonderman, leads U.S. efforts in the Wassenaar Arrangement to curb the proliferation of destabilizing conventional weapons, including advanced Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, precision-guided munitions, aircraft, missiles, sensors, and lasers.
  • The Biological Policy Staff (BPS), run by Director Christopher Park, leads the U.S. government’s coordination for the Biological Weapons Convention and related policy issues.

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Gonzalo Suarez serves as DAS for Counterproliferation, Sanctions Enforcement, and Regional Affairs. In this capacity, he oversees ISN’s four offices or staffs responsible for shaping the security environment through sanctions enforcement; through regional security, deterrence, and strategic stability dialogues; and through other such diplomatic initiatives. Dr. Purser also leads ISN’s Bureau-wide effort to plan and implement the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s WMD and delivery systems.

  • Counterproliferation Initiatives (CPI)run by Acting Office Director Thomas Zarzecki, implements efforts to interdict shipments of WMD and their means of delivery, to disrupt and shut down proliferator procurement and financial networks, promote observance of UNSCR 1540, ensure compliance with UN Security Council WMD-related sanctions, impose nonproliferation-related U.S. sanctions, and support and strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiative.
  • “Task Force 231,” run by Thomas Zarzecki, leads U.S. implementation of Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA), by developing and implementing sanctions and policy initiatives against those engaged in significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.
  • Policy Coordination (PC), run by Acting Office Director Charles Mahaffey, leads responses to worldwide WMD challenges by improving global nonproliferation cooperation and promoting dialogues and other initiatives to preserve strategic stability and lessen the likelihood of WMD use, such as in South Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East.
  • Congressional and Public Affairs (CPA), run by Acting Office Director Edward Burkhalter, supports ISN interactions with Congress, the media, industry, academia, and NGOs, as well as coordinating public diplomacy, strategic messaging, and other outreach efforts in support of all ISN missions.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Phillip Dolliff oversees ISN’s four offices responsible for counter-threat programming, charged with developing and implementing capacity-building and other programs in support of ISN’s missions.

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism (WMDT), run by Acting Office Director Terry Mobley, develops policies and plans, directs initiatives, and coordinates capacity-building activities to prevent, protect against, and respond to the threat or use of nuclear and radiological weapons, including: the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism; counter-nuclear-smuggling initiatives; responses to nuclear trafficking; and support for foreign consequence management of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incidents.
  • The Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund (NDF), run by Acting Office Director Joanna Gabryszewski, uses its agile and flexible funding and implementation authorities to respond to unanticipated or unusually challenging opportunities, such as missile destruction or removal of fissile material, in support of the most urgent nonproliferation, counterproliferation, or disarmament priorities.
  • Export Control Cooperation (ECC), run by Office Director Kathryn Insley, assists other countries in improving strategic trade control systems via the Export Control and Related Border Security program, and coordinates and strengthens U.S. government nonproliferation export control assistance efforts for other countries.
  • Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR), run by Acting Office Director Ryan Taugher, assists other countries in securing biological, chemical, and nuclear materials, technology, and expertise worldwide via the Global Threat Reduction Program.

ISN is working to improve its organization and structure on an ongoing basis to maximize its ability to direct the scarce, “low-density, high demand” resources of ISN staff, time, and program funding, against the highest priority national security threats and challenges in the international security and nonproliferation arena. As noted above, for instance, the Bureau organizes planning for implementation of denuclearization in North Korea on a “matrix-managed” basis, with a cross-Bureau task force that draws upon relevant expertise from all ISN offices, as needed, to help meet State Department and interagency planning and implementation requirements. Similarly, ISN recently established a new cross-Bureau task force to support the re-imposition of sanctions and procurement interdiction against Iran following the United States’ withdrawal from participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, and to lead Bureau efforts in connection with devising a new and more comprehensive arrangement to address Iranian proliferation threats – as well as a broader range of Iranian provocations – on an enduring basis.

ISN is a talented, diverse, and hard-working team of experts drawn from a range of Civil Service, Foreign Service, technical, academic, military, private sector, Congressional, and other professional backgrounds. Its staff is dedicated to using their skills and experience to meet some of the most significant and daunting security threats the U.S. and international community face today. We at ISN are proud to serve our country, protect the American people, and make the world safer and more secure for all.

U.S. Department of State

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