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Policy Analysis

Policy Focus 121

Nuclear Iran: A Glossary of Terms

Simon Henderson and Olli Heinonen

Also available in العربية

May 2013 Update

At a time when the possibility of military action against Iran's nuclear program is being hotly debated, the need for a clear understanding of the issues and the controversial science and technology behind them has never been more acute. Toward that end, The Washington Institute and the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs have copublished an interactive online glossary of terms used in the discussion about Iran, prepared by proliferation expert Simon Henderson and Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The updated edition comes out just as the IAEA is scheduled to release its latest quarterly report on Iran. Covering the jargon and history behind IAEA inspections, centrifuge enrichment, basic nuclear physics, and early nuclear weapons development in Pakistan and the United States, it provides an indispensable guide to an increasingly complex problem.


Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute. He has lived in both Pakistan and Iran and has written extensively on nuclear proliferation.

Olli Heinonen, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center, previously served as deputy director-general and head of the Department of Safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, inspecting facilities in Iran and other countries.