Global Nuclear Policy Program team integration at NTI

My office

Flying into Ronald Reagan National Airport, I felt as if I had fallen into a time warp. I couldn’t recall if I had been gone from D.C. for a year, a month, or only a week. While the city and its inhabitants have witnessed profound changes over the past 12 months, much remains the same and I felt a sense of familiarity and comfort returning to my old stomping grounds. However, rather than roaming the corridors of the Capitol, this summer I’m working downtown — just two blocks away from the White House — at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

Summers in D.C. have a reputation for being hot, humid, and generally slow. That said, my internship with NTI could not have come at a more exciting time. In June, the organization announced that former Secretary of Energy, Ernest J. Moniz, would be joining NTI to serve as Co-Chairman and CEO. Consequently, the organization is looking for new ways it can best serve its mission that reflect his unique expertise and interests. Thus, my internship presents an opportunity to play a small role influencing NTI’s future direction.

NTI’s programmatic focuses are centered on bio-, nuclear-, cyber-, and radiological-security. As a member of the Global Nuclear Policy Program (GNPP), my work examines how national nuclear policies can be structured to increase international nuclear stability and security. In my first week, I’ve been pulled into three projects that relate to my past academic and professional experience. First, I’m helping the organization examine ways to sustain constructive lines of communication between the U.S. and Russia during a challenging political and diplomatic period. In today’s political climate, official contact with the Russians is extremely limited and considered by many to be a third rail. To that end, nuclear saber-rattling and aggressive force posturing only further undermine global strategic stability. In this environment, think tanks and other elements of the expert community can help diffuse tensions and prevent miscalculation by maintaining Track II dialogues.

Margaret and her IPS classmate Jorge grab lunch at the World Bank in D.C

Second, shortly after his inauguration, President Trump directed the Department of Defense to initiate a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). This document will serve as the foundation for our nation’s nuclear policy and provide the overall framework under which issues such as extended deterrence, arms control, nonproliferation, force modernization, and others will be advanced from a U.S. perspective. Given the significance of the NPR, I’m helping the GNPP team analyze potential content and implications.

Lastly, given my prior experience working on Capitol Hill, I am helping NTI strengthen its congressional outreach program. This means reconnecting with many of my former colleagues, identifying how their boss’ legislative priorities overlap with NTI’s programmatic activity, and understanding how we can best support our common goals. Over the years, NTI has enjoyed support from across the political spectrum and earned a trusted reputation for non-partisan research and analysis. In my view, maintaining those ties in such a charged political environment is more important now than ever before.

As you can tell, it has been a busy first two weeks and I’m thrilled to already feel fully integrated with the GNPP team and the broader NTI staff. Stay tuned for more to come!

Written by Margaret Williams, M.A. International Policy Studies 2018 Candidate, FSI Global Policy Intern at the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

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