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Olli Heinonen is a former Deputy Director General of the IAEA and Head of its Department of Safeguards. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Before joining the Belfer Center in August 2010, Heinonen spent 27 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Heinonen spent the last five years as Deputy Director General of the IAEA, and head of its Department of Safeguards. 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 program. Heinonen led teams of international investigators to examine nuclear programs of concern around the world. He 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 is considered one of the world’s leading experts on Iran’s nuclear program. He led the Agency’s efforts in recent years to implement an analytical culture to guide and complement traditional verification activities.
A native of Finland, Heinonen studied radiochemistry and completed his Ph.D. dissertation in nuclear material analysis at the University of Helsinki. Before joining the IAEA in 1983, 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. At the IAEA, from 1999 to 2002, he was Director of Operations A and from 2002-2005, he was the Director of Operations B in the Department of Safeguards.