The Pandora Report is sad to report that James F. Leonard passed away recently at the age of 100. Ambassador Leonard was an ardent and articulate advocate for arms control and nonproliferation. As Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) from 1969-1973, Ambassador Leonard was the lead U.S. negotiator for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, the first international treaty to ban an entire class of weapons. Ambassador Leonard recounted his long diplomatic career in a 1993 oral history. Following his retirement from government service, Ambassador Leonard remained actively involved in nonproliferation activities through his work with several non-government organizations. In 1989, Ambassador Leonard was a co-founder of the Scientists Working Group on Biological and Chemical Weapons at the Federation of American Scientists (now the Scientists Working Group on Chemical and Biological Security at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation). His decency and dedication to the cause of arms control will be truly missed.
As published in The Washington Post, Sept. 13, 2020:
James F. Leonard Jr. passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, August 29, 2020 surrounded by family who adored him. He was 100. Ambassador Leonard was the Chief US negotiator for the Biological Weapons Convention under President Richard Nixon, when he was Assistant Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) from 1969 to 1973. After a brief retirement from government service from 1973 to 1977, during which he served as President of the United Nations Association (UNA), Ambassador Leonard returned to serve as Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations during the Carter Administration, from 1977 to 1979. From 1979 to 1981 he was Deputy Special Representative to the Middle East Peace Negotiations (the “Palestinian Autonomy Talks”) between the US, Israel, and Egypt, which resulted from the Camp David Peace Accords.
James Fulton Leonard, Jr. was born May 30, 1920, in Osborne, Pennsylvania to Margaret Trimble Leonard and James Leonard, Sr. After graduating from Andover in 1938, he received a scholarship to Princeton University, where he studied engineering (B.S. 1942). He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, with posts in the United States, France, and Okinawa (1942-46). Later he attended Harvard University (1952-53), and Columbia University (1963-64). James Leonard met and fell in love with Eleanor Martha Hanson while they were both studying for the foreign service exam. They were married in 1948. Together, they raised five daughters, as well as a son from Eleanor’s previous marriage. The family lived together in various posts for the U.S. Foreign Service.
Ambassador Leonard was proud to be a career Foreign Service Officer, and was a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. He spent 20 years serving in Damascus, Moscow, Paris, Taipei, New York, Geneva and Washington, DC. He spoke six languages. His first diplomatic posting was to Damascus, Syria (1949-51). His second posting was to Moscow at the height of the cold war (1953-55). He then served at NATO in Paris (1955-57). From 1958 to 1963, he was stationed in Taiwan. He returned to Washington where he worked on Far Eastern Affairs (1965-66) and as a Director of the Office of Strategic Research (1966-68). Mr. Leonard was Country Director for Korea in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1968 to 1969. While serving in that position, he and his wife Eleanor were credited with devising the terms that would ultimately secure the release of the hostages on the USS Pueblo, which had been seized by North Korea. In 1969 his career turned to arms control, the UN, and Middle East Peace efforts. After his second retirement from government service in 1981, Mr. Leonard was a consultant or board member for a number of non-governmental organizations. They included the Aspen Institute, the Palme Commission, the Committee on National Security, the Washington Council on Non-Proliferation, the British American Security Information Council, and the Canberra Commission. With an encyclopedic knowledge of history from ancient times to the present, his commitment to public service, his belief in equity and justice, and his delightful wit, James Leonard was a real force for good in the world. A true intellectual, he dedicated his life to furthering the prospects for world peace.
Ambassador Leonard is survived by daughters, Cindy, Val, Carolyn (Jeff), and Pam (John); son Arthur “Lee” (Diane); grandchildren, Christine (Gabe), Lynn (Justin), Diana (Alec), Zoe, and James “Jack”; and great-grandchildren, Annelise, Lily, Jonas, Tyler, and Owen. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Eleanor; sister, Margarite (Ugo); and daughter, Diana. A memorial celebration will be held in the spring of 2021.
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