Robert Zarate

Policy Director

Robert Zarate is Policy Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a non-partisan and non-profit 501(c)3 organization that educates and engages U.S. decisionmakers, journalists, and the public on the vital importance of U.S. global leadership in matters of security, diplomacy, international trade, and human rights and democracy promotion.

Prior to joining FPI, Zarate worked several years as a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives.  From 2009 to 2011, he served as Legislative Assistant to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), focusing on foreign affairs, national defense, and nuclear nonproliferation.  He also worked as lead staffer on Congressman Fortenberry's Help HAITI Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-293), which President Obama signed into law on December 9, 2010.  In 2009, he worked as a Legislative Fellow on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade's Majority Staff.

Before the Hill, Zarate worked as a Research Fellow at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), a non-partisan and non-profit 501(c)3 organization that educates decisionmakers, journalists, and the public on nuclear proliferation issues, from 2005 to 2008; as an independent consultant on nuclear issues from to 2003 to 2005; at Wired News, reporting on the intersections of national security, technology, politics, law, and business, in 2002; and as a Policy Analyst at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, D.C., where he focused on e-commerce and international controls related to the import, export, and use of encryption and other dual-use items, from 2000 to 2001.

In 2006, Robert Zarate authored "The NPT, IAEA Safeguards, and Peaceful Nuclear Energy:  An 'Inalienable Right,' But Precisely to What?" and presented the analysis at a symposium in Paris co-hosted by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With an eye towards Iran's drive to nuclear weapons-making capability, Zarate's analysis argues why the negotiation history of Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1968 (NPT) shows that the NPT does not recognize an inherent right of signatories to uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing--technologies that give countries a direct path to nuclear weapons.

In 2012-2013, Zarate served on the Project on Nuclear Initiatives (PONI) Working Group on U.S.-China Nuclear Issues convened by Center for Security and International Studies (CSIS), visiting Beijing for "Track 1.5" meetings in preparation for the Working Group's March 2013 Final Report on U.S.-Chinese strategic nuclear competition and engagement.

Zarate co-edited Selected Writings of Albert and Roberta Wohlstetter (2009), a volume of enduring and timely writings on war and peace in the nuclear age by two of America's most controversial, innovative, and consequential strategists.  He has also published essays and articles in USA Today,, The Weekly Standard,, National Review, U.S. News & World Report, and other periodicals.  He has discussed foreign policy issues on PBS NewsHour, C-SPAN's Washington Journal, BBC World News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, France 24, CCTV, public radio, and other national and international media outlets.

Zarate holds a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Chicago.  He tweets on U.S. national security issues and other topics at @RobertZarateDC.


(Bio updated on July 30, 2014.)

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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