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Senior US State Department Official Joseph Resigns January 25, 2007

Posted by notapundit in US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–Robert Joseph, the U.S. State Department’s senior arms control and security official, has submitted his resignation to U.S. President George W. Bush.

Joseph resigned amid uncertainty about the future of negotiations to curb nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. Talks on both fronts have moved slowly, with U.N. sanctions against both countries showing limited results, and currently are in recess.

Still, in an interview Thursday, Joseph said, “I think we have a very good record.”

He cited Libya’s renunciation of weapons of mass destruction and the dissolution of a network headed by A.Q. Khan, a Pakistani scientist who proliferated weapons technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Joseph also concentrated on what is now a grouping of more than 80 countries committed to intercepting and inspecting weapons cargoes at sea and an initiative to combat nuclear terrorism.

Joseph, who will leave next month, acknowledged trying to stop Iran and North Korea from building nuclear weapons was a very hard problem and said they posed serious challenges to U.S. security.

While he was not a participant in negotiations with Iran and North Korea, Joseph worked on backup measures, including a financial squeeze on the two regimes and implementation of U.N. sanctions resolutions against them.

His departure follows that of several other top diplomatic officials, including Philip Zelikow, who was a close adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick, and John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Joseph joined the State Department in 2005 after working on Bush’s National Security Council staff.

He has taken a strong view on a need to eliminate North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs and warned last month against terrorist groups and other nations acting against U.S. and commercial satellites.

“After six years of service I have decided it is time to resign,” Joseph said in the letter obtained Thursday.

In the telephone interview he said he would write, teach and work as a consultant. He has compiled 26 years of government service, teaching intermittently over that span.

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