In science and technology, nuclear techniques have frequently proved to be the most suitable or sensitive and their application has been invaluable in a wide variety of disciplines - medicine, agriculture, resource assessment and development and numerous branches of industry. Moreover, in a world increasingly concerned about environmental protection and development that is sustainable, these techniques have helped in the search to find ways to reduce pollution and make better use of scarce resources.
The desire to extend the many benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology to all countries led as long ago as 1957 to the establishment of the IAEA and to the immediate introduction of a technical co-operation programme. In the more than thirty years that have passed since that time, the potential applications of nuclear techniques have greatly expanded, as have the associated benefits for social and economic development. Over this period, many of the applications have moved from research laboratories into hospitals, farms and industrial enterprises. The IAEA has meanwhile remained as a unique international source of expertise on nuclear technologies.
|ARTICLE 11 OF THE AGENCY'S STATUTE - Article 11 states that:
"The Agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world."
The IAEA naturally maintains substantial programmes in nuclear power, nuclear and radiological safety and radioactive waste management, and in these areas also it provides support for developing countries within the context of technology transfer. The IAEA operates an international system of inspections, known as 'safeguards', to provide assurance that nuclear energy is utilized exclusively for peaceful purposes. Safeguards have been seen by most States as a prerequisite to the continued expansion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The direct resources made available to the IAEA by its Member States to support technology transfer processes have grown rapidly since the late 1950s. Over the last decade there has been an average annual rise of some 5% in total nominal resources and the total pledged under the Technical Assistance and Co-operation Fund (TACF) is about US $50 million per year. These figures indicate the importance that is attached to this aspect of the IAEA's work.