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Olli Heinonen

Olli Heinonen

Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

Contact:
Email: olli_heinonen@hks.harvard.edu

 

Experience

Olli Heinonen is a Senior Associate with the Managing the Atom Project at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. From 2010-2016 he was a Belfer Center Senior Fellow. He serves currently as a Senior Advisor on Science and Non-proliferation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Washington D.C.

His research includes: 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 programs of concern around the world and inspected nuclear facilities in South Africa, Iran, 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 clandestine nuclear proliferation networks.

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 been 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, the Teheran Times, Die Stern, 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 Henry Jackson Society, the Institute for Science and International Security, the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of the Nanyang Technical University, and the Carnegie Endowment. He has authored chapters in books on the IAEA verification experiences and on synergetic effects that nuclear safety, security, and safeguards have on one another contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall nuclear order.

He has testified on nuclear non-proliferation issues in the congressional hearings for both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

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

 

 

By Date

 

2016

U.S. Dept. of State

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"Don’t Rely on Iran’s Good Intentions"

Op-Ed

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

The international community cannot rely on Iran’s good intentions. It must build robust long-term assurances into all nuclear contracts that any separation of plutonium from spent fuel requires prior consent from the technology provider. Moreover, if necessary, the provider can request that the items in question be returned from the Islamic Republic.

 

 

Roman Harak

Friday, September 16, 2016

"North Korea’s 5th Nuclear Test – What now?"

Policy Brief, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

North Korea just heralded the 68th anniversary of its founding by conducting its fifth nuclear test. The initial seismic recordings were larger than previously recorded activity. This, coupled with other indicators, suggests that Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons capability is accelerating.

 

 

Wikimedia

September 8, 2016

"Lessons learned from dismantlement of South Africa's biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs"

Journal Article, Nonproliferation Review

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

South Africa had active nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs during the 1970s and 1980s. South Africa dismantled its nuclear weapon program prior to its 1991 accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Similarly, it terminated its chemical weapons program prior to its 1995 ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Only the dismantlement of Pretoria's nuclear weapons program was subjected to international verification—albeit ex post facto—following a 1993 decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference to verify the correctness and completeness of South Africa's declarations under its NPT safeguards agreement. During the 1980s, South Africa also developed and purportedly used biological weapons, violating its obligations under the 1972 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, which it had ratified in 1975. This article draws lessons from the verification of the dismantlement of these programs and makes recommendations for future verification work to confirm the elimination of weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

 

 

Flickr

July 29, 2016

"Iran’s Breakout Time Drops Below Administration Benchmarks"

Policy Brief

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

Iran plans to manufacture and install additional advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility in about 10 years, substantially boosting the country’s uranium-enrichment capability, according to a confidential document leaked last week by the Associated Press. According to the plan – which Iran reportedly shared with the IAEA six months ago – Tehran’s breakout time will shrink to a few weeks or less.

Furthermore, days after those revelations, Iranian officials said that they are prepared to swiftly reinstall dismantled centrifuges should their counterparts not fulfill their commitments under the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, even said that his country could restore its pre-JCPOA enrichment capacity within 45 days.

 

 

U.S. Dept. of State

July 27, 2016

"JCPOA implementation will face ‘some turbulences’ in coming months, Heinonen claims"

Q&A

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

“Implementation has started well, but I see some turbulences during the months to come,” Heinonen tells the Tehran Times. Though both Russia and the U.S. have criticized UN chief Ban Ki-moon for his report of the implementation of the Security Council Resolution 2231, the former IAEA official defends the drafting of the report by saying “since the resolution calls Iran not to conduct tests with missiles designed for carrying nuclear weapons, the Secretary General apparently felt it necessary to express his views on the tests conducted by Iran during recent months.”

 

 

AP

June 27, 2016

"Legitimizing Iran’s Nuclear Program with a Broader Conclusion"

Op-Ed, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

Restrictions on Iran’s uranium enrichment will remain in place for a few years after Transition Day, but Tehran can use the Broader Conclusion to advance the narrative that it should be treated as a country in good standing with its nuclear nonproliferation obligations.

 

 

AP

June 27, 2016

"EU-Iran Nuclear Cooperation: The Case for Stronger Safety and Nonproliferation Standards"

Policy Brief

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

The constraints imposed on Iran’s activities under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) curb Tehran’s nuclear program for eight to 15 years. The key restrictions on the program, however, disappear over time, leaving Tehran with an industrial-size nuclear program with near-zero nuclear breakout time and an easier, advance-centrifuge-powered clandestine “sneak out” time.

 

 

July 1, 2016

"Uranium Particles at Parchin Indicate Possible Undeclared Iranian Nuclear Activities"

Op-Ed, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

"On December 2, 2015, the IAEA issued its assessment on past and present outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear program and its Possible Military Dimensions (PMD). Buried in a footnote is a crucial detail: the presence of man-made uranium particles at the Parchin military complex. Last week, The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon reported U.S. officials saying those particles likely relate to previous nuclear weapons activities, thereby raising even more questions. For example, where is the nuclear material used for those nuclear weapons activities, and what is the source of the particles found at Parchin? The question of whether Iran still has undeclared nuclear material is therefore critical..."

 

 

AP

May 24, 2016

"Growth of Nuclear Energy: Issues in Safety, Safeguards and Security"

Op-Ed

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

Nuclear energy is seeing a revival post-Fukushima, with interest shifting away from Europe to Asia. As nuclear power use grows, so must the international community bear in mind the 3S - safety, safeguards and security.

 

 

AP

April 28, 2016

"IAEA Takes a Light Touch on Iran’s Heavy Water"

Policy Brief

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Managing the Atom Project

The IAEA’s reporting has been insufficiently clear regarding Iranian inventories of nuclear material. Iran is continuously enriching uranium and producing heavy water, and exceeding the JCPOA’s limits threatens to cut its nuclear breakout time. A clear, unambiguous IAEA accounting of Tehran’s nuclear inventories is therefore all the more essential.

 
Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.