Rose Gottemoeller: Encouraging Innovation in Arms Control

In honor of International Women’s Day today, March 8, and National Women’s History Month, each week Ploughshares Fund will be honoring the women who have been instrumental in advocating nuclear nonproliferation. Our first post recounts the invaluable work of Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Rose Gottemoeller.

Ms. Gottemoeller, who is also the Acting Undersecretary of Arms Control and International Security, has a wealth of experience in national security. She has been a staunch supporter of nuclear nonproliferation as reflected in her previous positions as Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation and National Security at the U.S. Department of Energy and as a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment’s Russia and Eurasia Program where she worked on U.S.-Russia relations and nuclear security. As Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Affairs from 1993 to 1994, her leadership on the National Security Council laid the groundwork for Ukraine, Kazakhastan and Belarus to denuclearize following the fall of the Soviet Union.

In 2009, Ms. Gottemoeller was designated the lead negotiator in the New START negotiations with Russia. Her experience in the New START meetings reinforced her awareness of how much influence nuclear policy has over international relations. “Diplomacy today is very different than it was at the dawn of the nuclear age,” she said at a conference on arms control in the information age in Moscow.

At the same conference she noted, “More often diplomacy is happening in the open, and at quicker speeds. We diplomats must learn to work and thrive under new circumstances.” Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller clearly understands rapid changes in technology will not only affect the language of diplomacy but the application and practice of diplomacy as well. Recently, she is concentrating on how to use new technologies to ensure that international arms control treaties are more easily and effectively put into force. Always willing to explore new technology like social media, Ms. Gottemoeller has said, “The neighborhood gaze is a powerful tool, and it can help us make sure that countries are following the rules of arms control treaties and agreements.”

This past Monday, Ms. Gottemoeller hosted a Google+ hangout where she discussed the emerging role of new technologies in nuclear nonproliferation and arms control. After speaking on the importance of using technology not only for verification but also to increase awareness among the younger generation on nuclear issues, she announced the winners of the Innovation in Arms Control Challenge – a State Department initiative to encourage innovative ideas on incorporating technology in arms control and verification.

Ms. Gottemoeller will be speaking at South by Southwest in Austin, TX today where it is reported she will introduce a new challenge to engage a wider audience and encourage more youth participation in the campaign to reduce nuclear arsenals around the world. “In order to pursue the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons, we are going to have to think bigger and bolder,” she invites the challenge.

Thanks to Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller’s leadership, change in international nuclear policy is underway.