The Cable

Clinton rolls back Bolton-era arms control shakeup

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday announced plans to reorganize the "T" bureau at the State Department, seeking to roll back changes made by former Under Secretary John Bolton during George W. Bush's presidency.

"We are undertaking a focused reorganization of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation and the Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation," Clinton wrote in a letter to T bureau staff. "The goals of this reorganization are to realign the missions of the VCI and ISN bureaus to better leverage their support for key national security objectives and to create dedicated organizational advocates for arms control and verification and compliance, and nonproliferation."

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher, who leads the T bureau, explained the rationale in a town-hall meeting with about 200 staffers Wednesday morning.

"Arms control, verification, compliance, and nonproliferation will no longer be starved for resources; quite the contrary, these missions along with our political-military efforts will be adequately resourced and well-staffed with first rate professionals," she told her personnel. "The proven and time-tested tools of arms control have been seriously underutilized, if not neglected, by the United States, and nonproliferation efforts have at times lacked focus and follow-through. This dysfunctional approach culminated in the 2005 reorganization."

Within T, the Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation (VCI) will be renamed the "Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance."  Adding arms control to the bureau's portfolio will help consolidate and strengthen that effort within T, a State Department official told The Cable.

The International Security and Non-proliferation Bureau (ISN) will now be left to focus solely on nonproliferation work. T's third bureau, the Political-Military Affairs shop, will go on unchanged.

Confused yet?

None of the plans are final, the official explained, and today begins a long process of consulting with T employees and Hill staffers alike. Small personnel shifts are expected from ISN to VCI.

"This is really the beginning of a conversation with the VCI and ISN staff to reorganize and strengthen both of these bureaus," the official said. "This is an effort to restore both bureaus to their previous prominence ... you now have a president who cares about nonproliferation."

The 2005 reorganization consolidated three bureaus into two, joining arms control and nonproliferation together into the ISN bureau, in what was then touted as a streamlining measure. A 2009 GAO report said that State was never able to demonstrate that the changes produced any benefits. Current officials saw the move as a way to marginalize both efforts.

ISN is currently without a permanent leader and being run by acting Assistant Secretary Vann Van Diepen. The State Department forwarded the name of Steve Mull, sources said, but the White House has yet to respond.

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