For over fifty years, the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories have been helping countries gain access to nuclear technologies for development. To mark this milestone, the IAEA held a commemorative event at its headquarters to highlight achievements and draw attention to future plans to modernize the labs.
The full-day event included a one-hour ceremony at which IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, the Chairman of the Board of Governors, speakers from a number of IAEA Member States and a representative of laboratory staff, delivered statements on the important work being done at the laboratories. Exhibits were also set up featuring the work of each of the eight nuclear applications laboratories.
"The laboratories are central to our efforts to fulfil one of our core responsibilities, which is to help Member States gain access to nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes," Director General Amano said.
"They help us to make an important contribution to tackling fundamental global problems such as food security, water and energy shortages, human and animal health and climate change."
Amano paid tribute to the high calibre of the scientists and engineers - from many disciplines and from many countries - who work in the laboratories.
"Thanks to their professionalism and ingenuity, we are able to make sophisticated scientific techniques available in robust, practical ways in the field. This improves the lives of millions of people."
The laboratories have also been the training ground for generations of scientists from developing countries.
"Nearly two thousand IAEA technical cooperation fellows and scientific visitors have passed through Seibersdorf over the past 50 years," Amano said. "They benefited from top-class training and expertise."
Present and Future Challenges
Member States want the Agency to expand its activities in almost all areas of nuclear applications. This includes climate-smart agriculture, malaria control and improving preparedness for responding to nuclear emergencies.
Director General Amano noted that he had announced plans to modernize the laboratories at the 56th IAEA General Conference in September. The General Conference had approved a resolution supporting his plans.
"I appeal to all countries which are in a position to provide financial support to do so," Amano said. "This is a very worthy cause, which deserves your support. The benefits will be felt by many hundreds of thousands of people in the coming decades."
In closing, the IAEA Director General thanked all the staff of the nuclear sciences and applications laboratories - past and present - who had helped to make the labs an invaluable asset to the Agency and to its Member States.
The full text of the Director General's Statement to the Seibersdorf 50th anniversary celebration is available here.