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Olli Heinonen

Olli Heinonen

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Contact:
Email: olli_heinonen@hks.harvard.edu

 

Experience

Olli Heinonen is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His research and teachings include: nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, verification of treaty compliance, enhancement of the verification work of international organizations, and transfer and control of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Before joining the Belfer Center in September 2010, Olli Heinonen served 27 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Heinonen was the Deputy Director General of the IAEA, and head of its Department of Safeguards. Prior to that, he was Director at the Agency’s various Operational Divisions, and as inspector including at the IAEA’s overseas office in Tokyo, Japan.

Heinonen led teams of international investigators to examine nuclear programmes of concern around the world and inspected nuclear facilities in South Africa, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, seeking to ensure that nuclear materials were not diverted for military purposes. He also spearheaded efforts to implement an analytical culture to guide and complement traditional verification activities. He led the Agency’s efforts to identify and dismantle nuclear proliferation networks, including the one led by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, and he oversaw its efforts to monitor and contain Iran’s nuclear programme.

Prior to joining IAEA, he was a Senior Research Officer at the Technical Research Centre of Finland Reactor Laboratory in charge of research and development related to nuclear waste solidification and disposal. He is co-author of several patents on radioactive waste solidification.

Heinonen is the author of several articles, chapters of books, books, in publications ranging from the IAEA and nuclear non-proliferation issues, to regional nuclear developments. His writings and interviews have be published in various newspapers and magazines including: Foreign Policy, The Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Bulleting of the Atomic Scientists, Arms Control Today, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, the Helsingin Sanomat, the New York Times, the Mehr news, Die Stern, the Haaretz, the New Statesman, the Washington Post, the BBC, and the Time. His policy briefings have been published by the Belfer Center,  the Atlantic Council, the Nautilus Institute, the Institute for Science and International Security, the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center,  the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the Carnegie Endowment.

Olli Heinonen studied radiochemistry and completed his PhD dissertation in nuclear material analysis at the University of Helsinki.

 

 

By Date

 

2015

AP

April 2, 2015

"We’ve reached a ‘nuclear framework’ with Iran. So now what?"

Op-Ed, Washington Post

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Seven experts weigh in on the agreement's implications.

 

 

Washington Institute for Near East Policy

March 28, 2015

"Iran's Nuclear Breakout Time: A Fact Sheet"

Op-Ed, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

With reports that Washington and its partners may reach a nuclear accord with Iran in the coming days, a former senior IAEA safeguards official answers the most pressing questions about Tehran's program and how the agreement might affect its capabilities.

 

 

ASSOCIATED PRESS

March 2015

"Verifying Iran for the Longer Term"

Op-Ed

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

P5+1 negotiators are reportedly nearing an agreement with Iran that would dismantle some elements of Iran’s nuclear program while only providing limits on all other parts of the program. It also would maintain meaningful parameters that assure—at a minimum—a one-year breakout capability. The Iran Task Force has raised concerns about numerous aspects of the current trajectory of negotiations and the P5+1’s concessions to Iran throughout the negotiations. The following memo addresses one such area of concern, namely the “sunset” of enhanced verification requirements.

 

 

AP Photo/Brian Snyder, Pool

March 22, 2015

"The Iran Time Bomb"

Op-Ed, Washington Post

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Michael Hayden and Ray Takeyh

As negotiations between Iran and the great powers press forward, Secretary of State John F. Kerry seems to have settled on this defense of any agreement: The terms will leave Iran at least a year away from obtaining a nuclear bomb, thus giving the world plenty of time to react to infractions. The argument is meant to reassure, particularly when a sizable enrichment capacity and a sunset clause appear to have already been conceded. A careful assessment, however, reveals that a one-year breakout time may not be sufficient to detect and reverse Iranian violations.

 

 

March 2015 update

Nuclear Iran: A Glossary

Report

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Simon Henderson

This Policy Focus is intended to improve comprehension of the main issues and important technical details surrounding Iran's nuclear program. The core of the document explains the terms used by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world’s watchdog in ensuring that nuclear science and technology are used for peaceful purposes only.

 

 

AP

October 2014

"Key Limitations on Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Program"

Op-Ed

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

In the preamble of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), the P5+1 concurred that a comprehensive agreement would involve an Iranian domestic enrichment capability. This concession, immediately pocketed by Tehran, marked a fundamental change in the negotiations. Instead of a complete suspension of enrichment and reprocessing activities, as called for in multiple Security Council resolutions and a foundational plank of all previous negotiating positions, the P5+1 negotiators are now attempting to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran that will establish a credible “threshold time window,” or “breakout time,” which would provide sufficient time to detect breakout and give the international community adequate time to respond to Iranian violations.

 

 

AP Photo/Joe Klamar, Pool

February 2015

"Changing the Operating Parameters of Centrifuges is NOT a Credible Solution to Gain Time"

Op-Ed

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The following memo addresses one proposal mentioned in recent press reporting on the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran. The result of such proposals recognizes Iran as a nuclear threshold state, which status the Task Force rejects.

 

2014

JAEA

December 3, 2014

"International Efforts for Ensuring Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Expectations for Japan"

Speech

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Senior fellow Olli Heinonen delivered the keynote speech at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency International Forum on ongoing proliferation concerns and the future of Japan's nuclear policy.

 

 

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

August 2014

"Possible Frameworks for Verification of a WMD/DVs Free Zone in the Middle East - The Nuclear Dimension"

Policy Brief, Academic Peace Orchestra Middle East, issue 33

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

This policy brief argues that, on balance, a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone would be better off relying on IAEA verification and safeguards at the beginning. Over the medium- to longer- term, given the political will, financial, and human resources, the regional states could invest in a regional authority to build up their own capacity and thereby contribute to strengthening mutual confidence and trust.

 

 

AP

November 21, 2014

"Regional Nuclear Plans in the Aftermath of an Iran Deal"

Op-Ed

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Simon Henderson

While the purpose of multilateral negotiations with Iran is to reduce proliferation concerns, successful talks may in fact accelerate nuclear plans in the Gulf states and Jordan, writes Senior Fellow Olli Heinonen.

 

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