Daily News Analysis

INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA)

13th June, 2022 International Relations

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Context:

  • India was one of only three countries, other than Pakistan and Libya who abstained from the resolution criticising Iran for flouting IAEA requests

 

More on the news:

  • As Iran’s government went into collision course with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), India’s abstention vote during an IAEA board of governors meeting this week is being seen as a significant show of support for Tehran, and a reassertion of its “non-aligned” stance as seen on its policy on Russia and the war in Ukraine.
  • Of the 35-nation Board of Governors of the IAEA, 30 countries voted for the resolution brought by US and “E-3” nations U.K., Germany and France, while Russia and China voted against it.
  • Since the US walk out, talks on the JCPOA have flagged, and the nuclear watchdog body, the IAEA has complained about Iran restricting access to its personnel.

 

About Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action 

  • It is commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal
  • It is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna in 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany)together with the European Union.
  • The agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran was an interim deal, in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. The final agreement is based upon"the rules-based non proliferation regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and including especially the IAEA safeguards system".

 

About IAEA:

  • In 1957 IAEA was created in response to rapid advancement and diverse uses of nuclear technology
  • This “Atoms for Peace” organizationestablished independently from United Nations, through its own Statute that defines its structure and functions.
  • However, This autonomous organisation reports to both United Nations General Assembly and Security Council
  • IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria

 

IAEA Missions:

  • Peaceful uses:Promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy by its member states
  • Safeguards:Implementing safeguards to verify that nuclear energy is not used for military purposes
  • Nuclear safety: Promoting high standards for nuclear safety

 

IAEA Functions:

  • It researches use of atomic energy in other areas such as agriculture, industry and medicine.
  • IAEA's plays crucial role in generating public awareness and supporting efforts to make nuclear power more affordable
  • It advises its members about developing and operating nuclear power stations and disposing of radioactive waste.
  • It played a big role in the Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster management.
  • Its serve as scientifically credible institution for objective analysis, expert advice, standard setting, technology transfer, credible oversight and verification

 

Issue and Challenges:

  • IAEA mission are growing, but its resources are still limited. Raising funds from the private sector or from public-private partnerships can lead to conflict of interest.
  • It has no authority to act on its own; it relies on the willingness of nations to cooperate, or on a UN mandate. Therefore, the agency enjoys only "uneven authority".
  • Non-cooperation from NPT non-signatory nuclear powered countries such as North Korea, Israel makes it almost impossible for the agency to monitor nuclear activities.
    • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multilateral export control regimethat seeks to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. It was founded in response to Indian nuclear test in1974.
    • Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving complete nuclear disarmament. India is neither a signatory to NPT nor a member of NSG.
  • IAEA has been accused of restricting the transfer of nuclear know-how to developing countries, hindering their social and economic development citing its statute as the reason behind this restriction
  • IAEA response to Fukushima nuclear disaster was highly criticised as the agency failed to play a proactive role in nuclear safety after witnessing Chernobyl.

 

India and IAEA

  • India is a founding member of IAEA
  • Presently, 26 Indian nuclear facilities are under this international nuclear energy watchdog
  • India is actively contributing to the work of IAEA and assisting other countries in developing aspects of nuclear science.
  • India signed the comprehensive safeguards agreement (CSA) and Additional Protocol (AP) with the IAEA in 2009 to send a strong signal to the international community that it is a “serious and responsible” nuclear weapons state amid its keen to become a member of NSG.
  • IAEA can assist India to internationalise its Indigenous technologies developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, such as Bharat Kavach, a carbon nanotube-based bullet proof jacket, and Bhabhatron, a cobalt therapy machine for treating cancer, to other countries.
  • Comprehensive Safeguards agreement:IAEA inspectors regularly visit declared nuclear facilities to verify records maintained by State authorities on the whereabouts of nuclear material under their control.
  • Additional Protocol: It is a more intensive, and voluntary form of safeguarding, which allows for extended inspections with the most advanced technique. This legal document, aims to provide assurances to both declared and undeclared nuclear sites.

 

Way forward: World must strengthen the ability of IAEA to promote independent assessments of nuclear safety so that the public would be better served by it.

 

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/iaea-abstention-on-iran-in-line-with-indias-russia-non-alignment-policy/article65517236.ece