Atomic Energy Agency, International

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Atomic Energy Agency, International

International Atomic Energy Agency, independent intergovernmental organization established in 1957 under the aegis of the United Nations to promote safe, secure, and peaceful uses of atomic energy. It reports annually to the UN General Assembly and, when appropriate, to the Security Council. Its headquarters are in Vienna; liaison and regional offices are located in Geneva, New York, Toronto, and Tokyo. It also runs or supports four research centers and scientific labs. The IAEA has three main aims: nuclear verification and security, safety, and technology transfer. It may purchase and sell fissionable materials, offer technical assistance for peaceful nuclear energy uses, and establish safeguards to prevent diversion of nuclear materials to military use. It inspects for compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a power strengthened as a result of the findings of Iraqi violations in 1992. More recently, the organization has been involved in taking measures against the threat of nuclear terrorism. The IAEA is made up of a general conference, consisting of representatives of all member states, a board of governors of 35 members, six deputy directors general, and a secretariat of some 2,200 individuals, all headed by a director-general. There are 151 member nations. In 2005 the IAEA and its director-general, Mohamed ElBaradei at the time, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for working to prevent the use and spread of nuclear weapons and to ensure that peaceful uses of nuclear energy were safe.

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