National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA employee in China serves Nation from half a world away

April 5, 2019

You are here

Michael Yo, far left, and colleagues pose in front of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Michael Yo, far left, and colleagues pose in front of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Michael Yo tells fellow employees about his international efforts during a lunchtime event in Washington, D.C.
Michael Yo tells fellow employees about his international efforts during a lunchtime event in Washington, D.C.

The Nuclear Security Enterprise spans not only the United States but the globe. NNSA and the Department of Energy (DOE) have foreign affairs specialists stationed at numerous partner countries to support diplomacy, policy-making, and national security.

Michael Yo is among this cadre of civil servant specialists. He has been stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China for the past three years, serving as Deputy Director for Clean Energy and Nonproliferation.

Among his many responsibilities, Yo manages the NNSA project to remove and convert Chinese-origin highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to non-weapons-usable low-enriched uranium.

“We have ongoing cooperation in nonproliferation,” Yo said. “We have worked with China on what’s called the miniature neutron source reactor (MNSR) conversion project. We are converting all Chinese-origin MNSRs in third-party countries. We started with Ghana and just finished Nigeria.”

Yo pointed to these accomplishments as his proudest moments during his time overseas, but emphatically pointed out that it is always a team effort. “Now we are looking to do the same thing in Pakistan,” he added.

He also represents the DOE offices of Electricity, Science, Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and International Affairs.

Despite an ever-shifting geopolitical landscape, Yo said, “Our relationships are strong in China. Particularly in the energy sector, where we continue to maintain cooperation in areas of mutual interests.”

Yo graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies with a master’s in International Economics.