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Richard C. Johnson

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy


Richard C. Johnson serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy (N-CWMD).  In this role he supports the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy by developing strategies, informing policies, and conducting oversight of nuclear deterrence policy and arms control, as well as developing and overseeing the implementation of strategies and policies of all Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction policy issues, to include preventing the proliferation of WMD-related materials; the DoD Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program; and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) defense.

Prior to his appointment at the Department of Defense, Richard served as the senior director for fuel cycle and verification at the Nuclear Threat Initiative.  Richard previously served as the assistant coordinator and deputy lead coordinator (acting) for Iran Nuclear Implementation at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to working at the Department of State, Johnson was director for nonproliferation at the National Security Council in the Obama Administration.

Richard held numerous positions at the Department of State, including as special assistant to Secretary Hillary Clinton's special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control, as a policy advisor on nonproliferation issues regarding North Korea, and as a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Richard has been involved deeply in Iran and North Korea nuclear issues, including as a member of the U.S. delegations to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Joint Commission and the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.  While on assignment to the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration, Johnson was a U.S. nuclear disablement monitor at the Yongbyon nuclear facility in North Korea.

Richard also previously served as senior legislative aide and field representative for California Assembly member Carol Liu.  He graduated as valedictorian from Claremont McKenna College and later earned his master’s degree at Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs.  Richard is proficient in Mandarin Chinese, is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and was a Presidential Management Fellow, as well as a one-time Jeopardy champion.

Richard is a Southern California native and currently resides in Washington, D.C.