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International Atomic Energy Agency

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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), established as an autonomous organization on July 29, 1957, seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to inhibit its use for military purposes. United States President Eisenhower envisioned, in his "Atoms for Peace" speech before the UN General Assembly in 1953, the creation of this international body to control and develop the use of atomic energy.

The IAEA is headquartered in Vienna, Austria (at the Vienna International Centre ). The IAEA has 137 member states, whose representatives meet annually for the General Conference to elect 35 members to be included into the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors meets five times a year and is a consensual body which prepares decisions to be made by the General Conference.

Additionally, the IAEA maintains field and liaison offices in Canada, Geneva, New York, and Tokyo, operates laboratories in Austria and Monaco and supports a research centre in Trieste, Italy that is administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The IAEA serves as an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology. The IAEA's programs encourage the development of the peaceful application of nuclear technology, provide international safeguards against its misuse, and facilitate the application of safety measures in its use. IAEA expanded its nuclear safety efforts in response to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

The IAEA was headed by Hans Blix from 1981 to 1997. The current head of the organization is Mohamed ElBaradei. With the increase of nuclear proliferation in the 1990s, IAEA tasks began to include inspections and investigations of suspected violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty under the mandate of the United Nations. However little has changed in the organizational structure of IAEA, and though its inspection results tend to attract a lot of coverage, the matter of IAEA reform does not.

In a speech to the National Defense University on February 11, 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush proposed: "No state under investigation for proliferation violations should be allowed to serve on the IAEA Board of Governors -- or on the new special committee. And any state currently on the Board that comes under investigation should be suspended from the Board. The integrity and mission of the IAEA depends on this simple principle: Those actively breaking the rules should not be entrusted with enforcing the rules." [1]

The remarks were seen as a comment to the Khan affair, which triggered calls for an IAEA investigation of Pakistan, a country currently included in the organization's Board of Governors.

See also: nuclear proliferation, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nuclear weapon, nuclear reactor, Sterile Atomic Fly

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Last updated: 05-15-2005 13:39:49