US Korea Institute

Thursday March 23rd 2017
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Joseph DeThomas

Joseph M. DeThomas is a Professor of Practice in the School of International Affairs of the Pennsylvania State University. He served as US Ambassador to Estonia from 2001 to 2004, spent 29 years as a member of the US Foreign Service and 32 years in the US Department of State. His service abroad included tours in Austria, Ethiopia, Germany, Iran and Mexico. He also held numerous positions in Washington over the course of three decades. This included two years of service as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation from 1999 to 2001 as well as a number of other positions that dealt primarily with proliferation-sensitive countries, including India, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Pakistan.

Professor DeThomas served on the faculty of the National War College from 2004 to 2006. He
received Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards for non-proliferation innovations, humanitarian
contributions and management as well as a group award for valor for service in Tehran, Iran.

After retiring from government service in 2006, he directed international science engagement
programs in more than 20 countries at CRDF Global.

He returned to service in the US Department of State from 2010 until February 2013 as an
adviser. There, he worked primarily on Iran and North Korea, implementing sanctions and
attempting to impede the weapons of mass destruction efforts of those two countries.

Professor DeThomas is also a distinguished graduate of the National War College.

Designating North Korea a State Sponsor of Terrorism: All Ahead Slow

Designating North Korea a State Sponsor of Terrorism: All Ahead Slow

Reopening the discussion about whether to re-designate the DPRK as a state sponsor of terrorism is inevitable in the current environment. The public and highly theatrical assassination of Kim Jong Nam using VX nerve gas followed by a nasty diplomatic contretemps between the Malaysian and North Korean governments would suffice to make any observer [...]

Reality Check on North Korean Sanctions

Reality Check on North Korean Sanctions

A recent op-ed by Sung-Yoon Lee and Joshua Stanton highlights what should happen in dealing with North Korea. Unfortunately, for this long-time practitioner in the field of nonproliferation sanctions, it also highlights what cannot happen—or at least what cannot happen at an acceptable level of risk with the limited knowledge and the complex [...]

Next Steps in DPRK Sanctions: Is There a Magic Bullet?

Next Steps in DPRK Sanctions: Is There a Magic Bullet?

Sanctions are a growth industry in Washington. Whether the problem is international terrorism, external aggression, humanitarian crisis, human rights violations, civil war or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the US government reaches first for its rather ample powers to restrict access of target countries to the international [...]

Next Steps in Sanctions against Pyongyang

Next Steps in Sanctions against Pyongyang

Recent developments in North Korea, particularly the execution of Jang Song Thaek and the latest series of short-range missile tests, have led to renewed speculation that Pyongyang may carry out bigger provocations in the near future. If the North does conduct a new long-range rocket or nuclear test, it is certain the United States and its allies [...]

Credit for photo of young North Korean girl: T.M. All rights reserved, used with permission.