Key Engagements

Arms Trade Treaty

The Arms Trade Treaty is a multilateral treaty regulating the international trade in conventional arms. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Treaty on April 2, 2013. It was opened for signature on June 3, 2013, and it entered into force on Dec. 24, 2014. To date, 67 states have ratified and 130 have signed the Treaty. The United States signed the Treaty on Sept. 25, 2013, the 91st country to do so.

During the Treaty’s negotiation, the United States worked closely with our international partners to secure a treaty that advances global security and respects national sovereignty and the legitimate arms trade. The Treaty does not infringe on constitutional rights secured by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the Treaty “reaffirm[s] the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system.”

Biological Weapons Convention

The United States is a depository nation for the Biological Weapons and Toxin Convention that bans the development, production and stockpiling of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. Treaty efforts at the annual Meeting of Experts and Meetings of States Parties, as well as pentannual review conferences have increasingly focused on disease surveillance capacity-building, assistance in the event of a suspicious outbreak or alleged use of biological weapons, biosafety, pathogen security, national implementation measures (including penal legislation), and issues related to "dual use" and the responsible conduct of the life sciences.

Export Control and Related Border Security Program

The Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program is the United States Government's premier initiative to promote harmonization of national strategic trade control practices with international standards. The EXBS Program accomplishes this goal by engaging on bilateral, regional and multilateral levels with foreign governments to aid in the establishment of independent capabilities to regulate transfers of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), WMD-related items, conventional arms, and related dual-use items, and to detect, interdict, investigate, and prosecute illicit transfers of such items. The EXBS Program organizes a number of international events to bring national policymakers and technical experts together, including the International Conference on Export Controls, the Global Transshipment Seminar and the Proliferation Financing Conference.

Fighting Nuclear Terrorism

Fighting nuclear terrorism is a continuing national security priority. As President Obama said at the National Defense University on December 3, 2012: “There’s still much too much material—nuclear, chemical, biological—being stored without enough protection. There are still terrorists and criminal gangs doing everything they can to get their hands on it. And make no mistake, if they get it, they will use it; potentially killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, perhaps triggering a global crisis. That’s why I continue to believe that nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to global security. That’s why working to prevent nuclear terrorism is going to remain one of my top national security priorities as long as I have the privilege of being President of the United States.” To learn about our programs go to the Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism and the Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction. More information about our counter nuclear smuggling unit is also available on the WMDT office page.

The Global Initiative To Combat Nuclear Terrorism

The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, co-chaired by the United States and Russia, is an international partnership of 86 nations and five official observers that have endorsed a set of core nuclear security principles across the full spectrum of nuclear terrorism deterrence, prevention, detection, and response objectives. To advance this mission, the GICNT has conducted more than 70 multilateral activities, including workshops and tabletop exercises, across the GICNT focus areas of nuclear detection, forensics, and response and mitigation.

Global Partnership 2012

The United States was the chair of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction through 2012. More»

Legal Framework for U.S.—Russian Cooperation in Nuclear Nonproliferation and Security

On June 14, 2013, the United States and the Russian Federation signed a bilateral framework on threat reduction that reinforces our longstanding partnership on nonproliferation. This new legal framework builds upon the success of the 1992 Agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Concerning the Safe and Secure Transportation, Storage and Destruction of Weapons and the Prevention of Weapons Proliferation, commonly known as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Umbrella Agreement, which expired on June 17, 2013. More» Treaty Text»

Lending ISN Assistance to the U.S. Effort to Curb the Ebola Epidemic

In August 2014, the World Health Organization made an urgent appeal for help to stem the tide against an intensifying Ebola outbreak in western Africa. The Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation responded rapidly through its Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction by training healthcare, law enforcement, and other international response personnel to lend assistance in this effort. Further efforts procured secure transport vehicles and personal protective equipment for areas of greatest need.

ISN trained more than 2,000 police officers from Sierra Leone and more than 1,200 Liberian police officers, equaling nearly one-third of Liberia’s national police force. Officers were trained on the nature of Ebola transmission; use of protective equipment; and proper techniques to interact with sick or potentially infected individuals. This training allows police to safely and securely perform key security duties that enable larger humanitarian efforts. ISN also trained health care workers on secure and safe practices at frontline clinics and supported activities to enhance the security and safety of transport of hazardous materials and sick patients.

These training programs directly leverage ISN’s substantial biosecurity and biosafety expertise to combat infectious disease and improve biosecurity. ISN’s work on Ebola is a further example of the cross-cutting nature of biological risk management and global health security supported by the Bureau.

Multilateral Export Control Regimes

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group
    • In June 2013, the Plenary in Prague, Czech Republic requested IAEA publication of changes to the Trigger List and Dual Use Control List following a three-year fundamental review of the Nuclear Suppliers Group control lists
    • In June 2012, the Plenary in Seattle, Washington, invited Mexico and Serbia to participate as observers and agreed that Mexico had completed all the necessary steps for consideration of membership and that the intersessional procedure should begin to confirm consensus. The Plenary endorsed the outgoing NSG Chair’s recommendations in support of a continued active outreach program with non-member states
    • In June 2011, the Plenary in Noordwijk, Netherlands approved new controls over transfers of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology
  • Wassenaar Arrangement
    • Plenary Meeting Approves Updated Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods, December 11, 2012, Vienna Austria

Nonproliferation Sanctions

The United States imposes sanctions under various legal authorities against foreign individuals, private entities, and governments that engage in proliferation activities, including Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons comprises legally binding nonproliferation commitments and is the basis for international cooperation on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. The President in Prague on April 5 said that the basic bargain at the core of the Treaty is sound: “Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament; countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy.”

During 2010, the International Atomic Energy Agency established the Peaceful Uses Initiative to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The PUI supports implementation of Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires NPT States Parties that are in a position to do so to cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Nuclear Security Summits

Announced by President Obama in 2009, the Nuclear Security Summit raises to the highest level of international attention the global threat of nuclear terrorism, and it reinforces the need for global efforts to combat nuclear terrorism and smuggling. The Summit goal is to energize, enhance, empower, and elevate the many existing multilateral, cooperative institutions and structures aimed at securing nuclear materials and preventing nuclear smuggling. NSS 2016 will take place in Washington, D.C., from March 31-April 1. More»

Nuclear Weapon Free Zones

Nuclear-weapon-free zones are agreements intended to provide a legally binding framework to prohibit the use, possession, or deployment of nuclear weapons in a geographically defined zone. The international community has long considered the establishment of such zones an important disarmament measure and called for their establishment to be encouraged, with the ultimate objective of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. Article VII of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons states, “Nothing in this Treaty affects the right of any group of States to conclude regional treaties in order to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories."

The United States and other members of the UN Disarmament Commission in 1999 adopted by consensus guidelines for the establishment of NWFZs that the UN General Assembly later endorsed. There are currently five NWFZ treaties in force:

Proliferation Security Initiative

Launched in Krakow, Poland in May 2003, the Proliferation Security Initiative is a global framework of states that commit to disrupt transfers of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related items to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Not a formal organization, PSI states cooperate to prevent proliferation and strengthen national capacities for action. As of December 2015, 105 states from all regions have endorsed these principles and now participate in PSI. In January 2016, PSI endorsers met in Washington, D.C., for a preparatory meeting leading up to the group’s high-level conference in 2018. States discussed progress they have made in implementing their PSI commitments, including those made at the 2013 Tenth Anniversary High-Level Political Meeting. At this meeting, France announced it would host the 2018 High-Level Political Meeting.

Supporting Syrian Chemical Weapons Elimination Date: 09/14/2013 Description: Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman in Geneva. - State Dept Image

The Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation has worked closely with other U.S. agencies and the international community to support the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria. The removal of the highest priority chemicals from Syria began Jan. 7, 2014. As of June 21, 2014, all declared chemical weapons agents, precursors, and materials, including production, mixing, and filling equipment, have been destroyed or removed from Syria. We congratulate the OPCW-UN Joint Mission and the entire international coalition for the level of coordination and effort involved with removing more than 1,000 tons of chemicals from Syria. We thank Joint Mission Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag, OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu, and their teams for their vital work under extremely dangerous and challenging circumstances. We also thank our allies and partners, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Finland, and the United Kingdom, who played an essential role in removing these chemical weapons materials.

The highest priority materials were neutralized aboard a U.S. vessel, the M/V Cape Ray, in international waters. The OPCW reported on Aug. 29, 2014, that 100 percent of all chemicals had been safely neutralized via hydrolysis. You can see an in-depth video demonstration of how this hydrolysis procedure neutralized these chemicals, which are now being disposed of at a commercial facility.

To date, ISN Bureau financial assistance to Syrian chemical weapons elimination efforts totals nearly $6 million from the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund for financial and in-kind contributions to the UN and OPCW. This assistance includes a $2 million financial contribution to the OPCW trust fund to support the inspection and verification of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and production equipment; as well as another $2 million contribution to the trust fund to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2118. In-kind assistance includes $1.55 million for 10 armored vehicles provided to the UN, and $300,000 for equipment to the OPCW, such as protective gear and medication to counteract exposure to chemical weapons, as well as training to aid OPCW work.

UN Security Council Resolution 1540

In April 2004, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1540, identifying the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their means of delivery as a threat to international peace and security for the first time. The resolution legally obligates all member states to make and enforce effective measures against the proliferation of such weapons and their means of delivery to non-state actors, and to combat illicit use of related materials. These measures will significantly strengthen the international efforts to prevent terrorists and proliferation networks from gaining access to WMD.

For the first time, the United States has reported to the United Nations that it has comprehensive measures in place to implement all of its obligations as set forth in the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 1540, which establishes legally binding obligations for member states regarding the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, delivery systems, and related materials. The UN has now published the report in its six official languages. U.S. implementation of Resolution 1540 reflects a “whole-of-government” approach; the report to the UN includes in-depth reporting on the updates to U.S. laws, regulations and policies, and it offers detailed data regarding the projects, initiatives and best practices the United States is using to protect the international community from non-state actors, including terrorist organizations that seek to obtain weapons of mass destruction.