Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN)

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.


Our Mission

Preventing the spread of WMD, delivery systems, and advanced conventional weapons capabilities — and rolling back such proliferation where it has already taken root — is the mission of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN).

In close collaboration with other bureaus within the State Department, other U.S. agencies, and a diverse range of international and non-governmental partners, ISN tracks, develops, and implements effective responses to proliferation threats and shapes the international security environment to prevent their recurrence.

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.


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