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Olli Heinonen

Olli Heinonen

Senior Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

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. 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

 

2016

Flickr

July 29, 2016

"Iran’s Breakout Time Drops Below Administration Benchmarks"

Policy Brief

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

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.

 

 

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, Project on Managing the Atom

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, Project on Managing the Atom

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, Project on Managing the Atom

"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, Project on Managing the Atom

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, Project on Managing the Atom

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.

 

 

AP

March 2016

"A New Nuclear World Order: Safety, Security and Safeguards"

Book Chapter

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

“A New Nuclear World Order: Safety, Security and Safeguards” in Die Zwischengesellschaft, written by Senior Fellow Olli Heinonen, reviews in detail measures to strengthen nuclear safety, security and safeguards to support states in developing and using nuclear energy in a safe, secure and peaceful manner.

 

 

AP

April 15, 2016

Correlating the Operation of the Coal Plant to Reprocessing Activities at Yongbyon

Report

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

As of April 2016, there are growing indications that North Korea has separated, is separating, or will soon be separating plutonium from irradiated fuel at the Radiochemical Laboratory, a process commonly referred to as reprocessing. An analysis of recent satellite imagery obtained shows several activities, which could be correlated to the preparation or actual reprocessing activities underway.

 

 

AP

March 15, 2016

"Heinonen: IAEA Needs Detailed Reporting to Draw ‘Broader Conclusion’"

News

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Project on Managing the Atom and Javad Heirannia

Olli Heinonen is of the opinion that the first report that the UN nuclear watchdog presented about Iran’s nuclear program after the implementation of the nuclear deal (JCPOA) was expected to be more detailed in order to reach a “broader conclusion”.

 

 

AP

March 4, 2016

"The IAEA’s Latest Report Falls Short"

Op-Ed, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s most recent report on Iran’s nuclear activities provides insufficient details on important verification and monitoring issues. Over the longer term, this will hamper efforts to reach a “broader conclusion” that all nuclear material and activities are accounted for and for peaceful use.

 
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.