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Deputy Director of CNS/WDC, Executive Director of DC

Leonard Spector
1400 K Street, NW, Suite 1225
(202) 601-2377

Leonard S. Spector is deputy director of the Institute of International Studies' James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and leads the Center's Washington D.C. office. Mr. Spector joined CNS from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where he served as an assistant deputy administrator for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration.

His principal responsibilities at DOE included development and implementation of DOE arms control and nonproliferation policy with respect to international treaties; US domestic and multilateral export controls; inspection and technical cooperation activities of the International Atomic Energy Agency; civilian nuclear activities in the US and abroad; initiatives in regions of proliferation concern, including the canning of plutonium-spent nuclear fuel in North Korea and Kazakhstan; and transparency provisions of bilateral agreements with Russia covering the purchase of weapons-grade uranium and the cessation of plutonium production. Additionally, he managed the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention and the Nuclear Cities Initiative programs.

Prior to his tenure at DOE, he served as Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Director of its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Project. He also established the Program on Post-Soviet Nuclear Affairs at Carnegie's Moscow Center. Before joining the Carnegie Endowment, Mr. Spector served as chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Energy and Proliferation Subcommittee, where he assisted in drafting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act and the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. He began his career in nuclear nonproliferation as a special counsel at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Mr. Spector has served on senior advisory panels at the Sandia National Laboratories, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the National Research Council of the American Academy of Sciences. He has also served as secretary and member of the Board of Trustees of the Henry L. Stimson Center, and is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Washington, D.C. Bar.

Mr. Spector is the author or co-author of six books and numerous articles on nonproliferation and comments frequently on this subject in the media. His current research focuses on strategies to challenge proliferant states’ continued possession and use of illicitly procured dual-use nuclear goods and implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action limiting Iran's nuclear program, with particular attention to financial sanctions.

Mr. Spector’s recent work includes Combating Nuclear Commodity Smuggling: A System of Systems (Monterey, CA, and Washington, D.C.: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 2014), co-authored with Egle Murauskaite, and, with co-editors Matthew Bunn, Martin Malin, and William Potter, Countering Black Market Nuclear Technology Networks (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). 

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

international law of treaties; the role of the United Nations; domestic nonproliferation policymaking structures and processes; the roles of the executive and legislative branches of government; the utility of international nonproliferation sanctions; the legality of the use of force to combat proliferation; legal solutions to the problem of nuclear smuggling; the effectiveness of multilateral safeguards and inspections; and rules governing civilian commerce in nuclear goods. Attention will be given to examining the hierarchy of legal instruments; mandatory versus voluntary measures and the evolution of norms and customary law; the interaction of international agreements and domestic law; and the interplay of programs, mandatory rules, and discretionary policy. In addition, the course will also explore the impact on the effectiveness of law-based nonproliferation measures of gaps in their scope, acceptance, implementation, and enforcement.

The course will be conducted using both the lecture and classroom exercises, and active student participation is both encouraged and required.

Spring 2017 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only, Spring 2018 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

Arms control and nonproliferation, international treaties, U.S. domestic and multilateral export controls

Mr. Spector interviewed on MSNBC.


Research Centers

Academic Degrees

Mr. Spector holds a J.D. degree from Yale Law School and an undergraduate degree from Williams College.


His many publications include: Tracking Nuclear Proliferation 1995: A Guide in Maps and Charts (with Mark McDonough and Evan Medeiros, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1995); Nuclear Ambitions: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons, 1989-1990 (Westview Press, 1990); The Undeclared Bomb: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons, 1987-1988 (Harper Business 1990).