The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) has named Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a longtime intelligence officer with deep expertise on Russia and nuclear security, as its first William J. Perry Distinguished Fellow. This NTI position is designed to seed innovation in threat reduction, building on the legacy of NTI Emeritus Board Member William J. Perry, who served as the 19th U.S. Secretary of Defense and is a global leader on reducing nuclear risks.
Mowatt-Larssen will focus his research efforts at NTI on the implications of the Ukraine crisis for the global nuclear order, drawing on his experience during 23 years of service in the CIA and later as Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy. Mowatt-Larssen, a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs since 2009, will also share his expertise with the NTI-affiliated Euro-Atlantic Security Leadership Group.
“Rolf Mowatt-Larssen’s extraordinary career at the intersection of intelligence and security has made him one of the world’s foremost experts on global threat reduction. His leadership and expertise on Russia and nuclear issues will make him an invaluable addition to NTI and increase our impact at a challenging time for peace and security,” said NTI Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz. “We are honored to have Rolf join us as our new William J. Perry Distinguished Fellow.”
Mowatt-Larssen will spend one year at NTI, working in residence the majority of the time.
About Rolf Mowatt-Larssen
A Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs since 2009, Mowatt-Larssen served until July 2019 as Director of the Center’s Intelligence Project.
Before joining the Belfer Center, Mowatt-Larssen served for more than three years as the Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy. That followed 23 years as a CIA intelligence officer in various domestic and international posts, including Chief of the Europe Division in the Directorate of Operations, Chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Department, Counterterrorist Center, and Deputy Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support.
Early in his career, Mowatt-Larssen served as an officer in the U.S. Army. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY.
He is a recipient of the CIA Director’s Award, the George W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, the Secretary of Energy’s Exceptional Service Medal, the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, Secretary of Defense Civilian Distinguished Service Medal, and the National Intelligence Superior Performance Medal, among other awards.
About the William J. Perry Distinguished Fellow Program
The William J. Perry Distinguished Fellow Program honors William J. Perry, the 19th U.S. Secretary of Defense and a founding NTI Board member, for his significant impact in shaping the field of nuclear risk reduction. The fellowship brings outstanding talent to NTI on a term basis for the purpose of advancing a strategic priority or seeding new directions in threat reduction.
In a remarkable career that has spanned academia, industry, entrepreneurship, government, and diplomacy, Perry has dealt firsthand with the changing nuclear threat. Marked indelibly by the devastation in Japan he witnessed as a young sergeant in the Army of Occupation in the immediate aftermath of World War II, Perry chose a career in defense electronics that put him at the heart of top-secret Cold War reconnaissance of the growing Soviet nuclear forces, an imperative to deterrence and to constraining the already intense arms race.
Perry was one of Silicon Valley’s early entrepreneurs, founding a company that pioneered digital technologies in the race to understand the Soviet nuclear missile arsenal. His expertise led to frequent requests to advise the government on national security, notably including an urgent summons in October 1962 asking him to serve on the secret team analyzing U-2 photos exposing the Soviet installation of nuclear armed missiles in Cuba.
As Secretary of Defense, Perry galvanized efforts to secure nuclear stockpiles (“loose nukes”) inherited by former Soviet states and presided over the dismantlement of more than 8,000 nuclear weapons. He also practiced a unique form of diplomacy that blended his warm personal relationships with officials in many countries with optimism, unflagging energy, and incisive pragmatism focused on the world’s most critical security hotspots, including North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China.
The William J. Perry Distinguished Fellow program is made possible through generous donations from Dave Bernstein, Alice C. Maroni, Ann and John Doerr, Charles and Ann Duncan, Jamie Gorelick, Marshall and Yuko Hung, Judith Miller and Peter Buscemi, Joseph S. Nye, and Sheila Widnall, as well as donors who prefer to remain anonymous.
NTI is a nonprofit global security organization focused on reducing nuclear and biological threats imperiling humanity. Learn more at www.nti.org.