Russell Leslie

Research activity per year

Personal profile


From 2011 to 2019, as the head of an Operations section in the International Atomic Energy Agency,  I was responsible for the implementation of safeguards in sixteen European countries including two nuclear weapon states (France and the UK). In this role I lead a multi-national team of around twenty professional and clerical staff. 

From 2019 to 2022 was responsible for the implementation of safeguards at Japanese reprocessing and mix-oxide fuel fabrication facilities as well as a variety of other States in the Asia-Pacific region (including Indonesia and the Philippines).

In my role as a section head I gained direct, current and practical experience of the wide range of issues which affect the day to day workings of the IAEA safeguards system including all in-field and headquarters activities. Each year I was responsible for ensuring that the State Evaluation Groups for my States were able to draw credible safeguards conclusions for the States under my section's responsibility. 

Before rejoining the IAEA in 2011 I was a Director in the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (an office within the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)). I was regularly involved in negotiating international treaties and agreements (starting in 1989 as a junior member of the team negotiating Australia’s nuclear transfer agreement with the USSR and near the end of my time with ASNO, in 2011, as team lead negotiating an update to Australia's bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with the EU).

At ASNO, through my long-term role as coordinator of the Australian Safeguards Support Program (ASSP), I developed, and continue to maintain, an extensive network of contacts within the international safeguards community.

I have extensive experience as a lecturer and public speaker. I have been a guest lecturer in IAEA training courses in China, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam and South Africa and I have also frequently delivered papers at international conferences such as the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management (INMM) and European Safeguards Research and Development Association (ESARDA). I also managed and presented ASNO's series of regular lectures on technical non-proliferation topics for elements of the Australian Public Service involved in counter proliferation. 


Research interests

This work has included:

  • conducting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards inspections at a wide range of facility types in Europe and Asia; 

  • managing and evaluating inspections conducted by my staff;

  • evaluating the effectiveness of safeguards in general;

  • assessing of the challenges faced by the system;

  • identifying emerging problems for Agency safeguards; and

  • critical analysis of new verification regimes.

For most of my professional career I have worked in positions that require:

  • an extensive familiarity with the legal framework of IAEA safeguards;

  • IAEA reporting and inspection procedures; and

  • the technical aspects of safeguards for a broad range of nuclear facilities.




PhD (ANU), MNucSci (ANU), BSc(Hons Physics) Melb. Uni.

Expertise Areas

  • Public policy
  • Defence studies
  • International relations
  • Nuclear physics


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