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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 Photo)

August 14, 2015

"Decoding the Iran Agreement: What Constitutes Effective Verification and Monitoring"

Presentation

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

On Thursday, August 6, Belfer Center Senior Fellow Olli Heinonen took part in a teleconference sponsored by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) to assess the Iran nuclear agreement.

Heinonen was joined by fellow arms control experts Joan Rohlfing and Frank von Hippel in the panel discussion titled "Decoding the Iran Agreement: What Constitutes Effective Verification and Monitoring?" The discussion was moderated by The Atlantic's James Fallows.

 

 

August 3, 2015

"The nuclear club: Old weapons die hard as new ones are born"

Op-Ed, Washington Examiner

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

Two flashes, one in Hiroshima and the other in Nagasaki, extinguished the lives of 200,000 people, made equally large by the amount of suffering resulting from the consequences that the blast and radiation generated. This was also the start of the nuclear armament race, first between the United States and the then-Soviet Union, soon followed by the United Kingdom, France and China.

The two Cold War adversaries and environment the Cold War generated held the nuclear aspirations of the allies at bay. The warning by President Kennedy of a nightmare scenario of several dozen states gaining nuclear weapons in the coming age unless steps were taken did not materialize. Security guarantees by the U.S. and Soviet Union to their allies, access to peaceful nuclear technology and the conclusion of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1968 were medicines to curb nuclear proliferation.

 

 

(AP Photo)

July 23, 2015

"The Iran Nuclear Deal: Pitfalls & Promises"

Presentation

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

On July 23, 2015, Olli Heinonen took part in an expert panel that explored the outcome of the historic nuclear negotiations with Iran. The panel discussion, titled "The Iran Nuclear Deal: Pitfalls & Promises," was held the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

The event, which was the fifth in the Iran Forum series sponsored by a consortium of eight Washington think tanks, can be viewed in its entirety.

 

 

Belfer Center

July 23, 2015

"The Iran Nuclear Deal and its Impact on Terrorism Financing"

Testimony

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

Olli Heinonen, senior fellow at the Belfer Center, testified on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services' Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing. The hearing was titled “The Iran Nuclear Deal and its Impact on Terrorism Financing.”

 

 

AP

June 24, 2015

"Verifying a Final Nuclear Deal with Iran"

Op-Ed

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

Unfettered access to sites, facilities, material, equipment, people, and documents is imperative to the credible long-term verification of any nuclear agreement with Iran. This “anywhere, anytime” access and short notice inspections must not be subject to a dispute resolution mechanism, which would delay the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) access.

 

 

AP

June 17, 2015

"How to Make Sure Iran's One-Year Nuclear Breakout Time Does Not Shrink"

Op-Ed

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

The final deal needs to specify the total enrichment capacity of Iran's installed centrifuges, mandate a robust verification regime, and include other restrictions to the nuclear program's size and content.

 

 

May 7, 2015

Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices

Report

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

This report outlines the details of the Group of Governmental Experts’s deliberations, characterizes the range of expert views on aspects of a treaty — notably in relation to the dynamic correlation between a future treaty’s scope, definition, verification requirements and associated legal obligations and institutional arrangements — and presents the Group’s conclusions and recommendations.

 

 

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.

 
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.