After the A-100 introduction to the Foreign Service, I was assigned as a consular officer to Sao Paulo, Brazil. From there, I returned to the main State Department where I was assigned to the INR Watch Office, the office that monitors intelligence for the State Department Operations Center. Since it was physically in the Operations Center we used to hear calls patched through the center from around the world. Kissinger was Secretary of State, and his distinctive voice could always be heard when he was on the line.
From the Watch Office I was assigned to the Brazil Desk in the Latin American Bureau, where I was an assistant to the senior desk officer. One of the main issues on the Brazil desk was a huge nuclear reactor sale to Brazil by Westinghouse, which Senator John Glenn blocked by passing a law saying that fuel for such reactors could be exported only if the recipient was a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Brazil was not.
My first and third overseas assignments were in Brazil. First, in Sao Paulo and second in Brasilia. In Sao Paulo in the 1970s. I was a consular officer, issuing visas to people who wanted to visit or immigrate to the United States. In Brasilia, I was the science officer, working mainly on nuclear proliferation and environmental issues. Argentina and Brazil abandoned their nuclear rivalry while I was there, and we made some slight progress in stopping deforestation of the Amazon.
Because of my interest in this issue, I next went to the non-proliferation office in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, where I worked on Latin American nuclear issues, as well as other scientific matters. From there I went to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, where I worked on space arms control. After ACDA,
I took a course in computer management in the State Departments Foreign Service Institute and then went to Thailand to manage Embassy Bangkok’s computer systems. So, my second overseas assignment was Bangkok, Thailand. In Bangkok I was in charge of the embassy’s computer systems. The main users of the computers in the embassy were the consular section, which did background checks on visa applicants, and the administrative section which kept many databases on personnel and supplies. Outside of the embassy, special US government teams kept huge databases on Vietnamese who wanted to go to the US to live — a program for refugees inside Thailand in camps along the border, and the Orderly Departure Program which provided periodic airline flights for Vietnamese still stuck in Vietnam.
From Bangkok, I went to Brasilia, Brazil, where I worked again on nuclear non-proliferation, space, and environment issues.
From Brazil, I returned to Washington to work on missile non-proliferation, heading up work on the Missile Technology Control Regime, which I had helped create in INR and which was then growing and adding members.
From missile proliferation in PM, I moved to environmental affairs in the Oceans, Environment and Science Bureau. This office focused on preserving animals (the CITES convention and endangered species) and plants (the Biodiversity Convention and forestry agreements), as well as international health issues, mainly HIV/AIDS.
After OES, I spent a year learning Polish and then went off to the American Embassy in Poland as Science Counselor, working mainly on science cooperation between the US and Poland following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Communist rule in Poland. I also helped create a Polish environmental NGO, the Ekofundusz, doing environmental projects using money from forgiven American loans.
From Poland, I went to Rome, where I worked on non-proliferation and environmental issues. In Italy the main environmental issue was over fishing for swordfish in the Mediterranean. I continued to be involved in non-proliferation, because the US sought Italy’s cooperation on the first attempt to limit North Korea’s nuclear development under an agreement called KEDO the Korean Energy Development Organization. I retired from the Foreign Service in Rome.