A Cross-Cutting World

by Lothar Wedekind, Editor-in-Chief

The road to security in today's world is a cross-cutting interchange of paths and approaches.

For many, it's a path marked with four-letter wordsó"f-o-o-d" and "f-e-a-r" of not finding any. For others, it's the path to affording a doctor to save a child's life...finding a well for clean water to drink...gathering waste to warm a home...shielding a family from acts of terrorism.

The IAEA travels these and other paths everyday through its global reach. Agency teams help people in more than 140 countries around the world. Their work, for example, supports countries seeking to:

-find and recover dangerous old radioactive sources;

-remove high-risk nuclear material from vulnerable places;

-block the spread of nuclear-weapons capability;

-end the reign of killing diseases, like malaria and cancer;

-meet rising needs for energy and electricity;

-achieve food security, on the farm and in the home.

Some of the work is deeply rooted, going back to days when the world's political and scientific leaders first moved to set global directions. The IAEA turns 50 in July 2007, and there is a mountain of experience and knowledge to draw upon. Some of today's proposals are doing just that, revisiting old ideas and tailoring them to 21st century realities.

Many challenges are new, some daunting. The IAEA's latest strategic plan sets directions for the first years of the Agency's next half century, through 2011. It cites notable changes driving action. One is the wide realization that nuclear proliferation and terrorism pose big threats to global security. Another is renewed interest in nuclear fuel cycles, including a new framework for the oversight of technologies and materials that can be used for good or ill. A third is the rising need for safe and clean energy to fuel goals of cutting poverty and protecting our environment.

Distinguished contributors to this edition of the IAEA Bulletin travel the cross-cutting and bumpy road of our common security, offering their views and perspectives on ways to move ahead. They don't always agree on which way to go. But they agree on the urgency of going forward. The journey calls for seizing every opportunity.