Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism (ISN/WMDT)

To counter the threat of terrorists acquiring and/or using a weapon of mass destruction, WMDT works with foreign partners to establish, strengthen, and maintain their capabilities to deter, detect, defeat, and respond to terrorist attempts to acquire or use chemical, biological, radioactive, or nuclear materials.

Key Missions:

  • Countering Nuclear Smuggling: Terrorists or other malicious actors could acquire and use smuggled nuclear or other radioactive materials. WMDT works with partner countries to achieve a common understanding of the smuggling threat and to collaboratively prevent, detect, and respond to smuggling incidents. To advance this mission, WMDT:
     
    • Implements U.S. counter nuclear smuggling policy by advancing U.S. interests with international organizations and individual partner countries;
    • Develops and implements bilateral joint action plans with at-risk foreign partners who commit to collaborating on countering nuclear smuggling;
    • Provides and facilitates projects and trainings to help address critical vulnerabilities in high-threat partner countries;
    • Partners with other international donors to leverage funding and resources to support counter nuclear smuggling efforts;
    • Chairs the U.S. interagency Nuclear Trafficking Response Group; and
    • Serves as the U.S. Point of Contact for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB).
       
  • Foreign Consequence Management (FCM): WMDT’s FCM Program oversees two key missions for the Department regarding international response to chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) incidents.
     
    • Engagement: WMDT partners with priority foreign nations to build and enhance their capabilities to respond in the event of a catastrophic CBRN incident. WMDT coordinates and works with a wide range of U.S. interagency experts and programs to deliver training and equipment at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of response, with the goal of fostering a sustainable capability in each nation.
    • Response: WMDT works to prepare the U.S. government to respond to foreign catastrophic CBRN incidents. In this role, WMDT represents the Department in interagency policy development and implementation, participates as subject matter experts in CBRN consequence management exercises, and assists U.S. embassies in enhancing their consequence management preparedness.
       
  • The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT): WMDT manages the U.S. co-chairmanship of the GICNT. The GICNT, which the United States and Russia jointly chair, is an international partnership of 88 nations and five official observer organizations that have endorsed a set of core nuclear security principles across the full spectrum of nuclear terrorism deterrence, prevention, detection, and response. The mission of the GICNT is to strengthen global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism by conducting multilateral activities that strengthen the plans, policies, procedures, and interoperability of partner nations. To advance this mission, the GICNT has conducted more than 100 multilateral activities, including workshops and tabletop exercises, across the GICNT focus areas of nuclear detection, forensics, and response and mitigation. For further information, visit www.gicnt.org or email Globalinitiative@state.gov.
     
  • Nuclear Forensics: Nuclear forensic science helps governments investigate and prosecute illicit uses of nuclear or other radioactive material, and helps foster cooperation between or among governments investigating transnational crimes involving such materials. To strengthen nuclear forensics capabilities, WMDT:
     
    • Co-chairs, with the European Commission, the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG) which is the longest-standing multilateral effort to identify and socialize best practices;
    • Chairs the U.S. interagency Nuclear Forensics Engagement Working Group (FEWG), which facilitates U.S. engagements, identifies gaps, and articulates U.S. assistance goals for partner nations;
    • Serves as a U.S. government Point of Contact for foreign government queries of the U.S. National Nuclear Forensics Library;
    • Leads diplomatic engagement on pre- and post-detonation nuclear forensics; and
    • Works to advance nuclear forensics objectives in multilateral forums including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT).
       
  • The Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (“Global Partnership,” or GP): WMDT manages U.S. participation in the GP, a multilateral security initiative launched at the 2002 Group of Eight (G8) Summit in Kananaskis, Canada. The GP seeks to fund and coordinate projects in the areas of chemical, biological, and radiological/nuclear (CBRN) threat reduction. Upon its establishment, the original 8 member countries pledged to contribute $20 billion to prevent terrorists and non-state actors, or states that support them, from acquiring weapons or materials of mass destruction. In 2011, the original member countries agreed to expand the GP membership; today the GP comprises 30 active member countries plus the European Union. It has allocated more than $22 billion for efforts to reduce the WMD threat and prevent CBRN terrorism. The GP meets twice per year and is chaired by the country holding the annually rotating Presidency of what is now the G7. It convenes in plenary session, as well as in Sub-Working Groups that include the Nuclear and Radiological Security Sub-Working Group (NRSWG), the Biosecurity Sub-Working Group (BSWG), the Chemical Security Sub-Working Group (CSWG), and the CBRN Sub-Working Group (CBRNWG). Canada is the President in 2018, followed by France in 2019, and the United States in 2020.

Last Updated: March 30, 2018