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Ian Bolton

Ian Bolton

Visiting Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Conflict
  • Security


Ian Bolton is a sanctions and nuclear proliferation specialist, who has worked in the sanctions space for nearly a decade.

Ian worked for the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) for eleven years, focussing particularly on sanctions and nuclear proliferation. He worked with the UK’s negotiating team on the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. He led the UK’s interdictions efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, and was the UK lead for the Proliferation Security Initiative from 2014-2016. In 2017, he did a six-month secondment to King’s College, working within Project Alpha in the Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS). Ian returned to the FCDO to work on sanctions and help write the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act (2018), one of the UK’s keynote pieces of Brexit legislation, which allows it to continue to implement and enforce sanctions.

In the summer of 2018, Ian left the FCDO to continue building his sanctions expertise, taking up the role of Senior Sanctions Manager in the newly-created ring-fenced HSBC UK. He tackled complex issues around regulatory reporting, advising the business, customers, senior stakeholders, and the Board on sanctions.

In early 2021, Ian started a new challenge, setting up his own sanctions consultancy, Sanctions SOS, providing sanctions risk analysis and mitigation, training, and capacity building. Ian is working on projects with a range of stakeholders including at King’s, the International Compliance Association, and WorldECR.

Ian is the Editor of Financial Institutions Sanctions Compliance (FISC), a WorldECR journal, which focusses on addressing the sanctions challenges and topics facing the financial sector, their customers and advisors.


BA Hons History, University of Hertfordshire
MA History, University of Hertfordshire
Panel Member of the ICA for sanctions content
Member of the ICA (MICA)


  • Sanctions effectiveness
  • Targeted and comprehensive sanctions and the lifting of sanctions
  • Government and private sector co-operation on sanctions
  • Sanctions risk management and compliance within companies
  • Open-source intelligence, investigations, and research
  • Proliferation finance
  • Nuclear non-proliferation related work and sanctions
  • Interdictions, including maritime and aviation, customs enforcement and best practice.


  • 'A gulf in understanding? Bridging the sanctions policy gap between industry and government,' WorldECR, Issue 98 Apr 2021, pp.31-34.