In retrospect, the closing year 2010 reflected the IAEA's continued active role in applying nuclear technology for maintaining peace and promoting social development. These roles have been as varied as the applications in which nuclear science is being used - ranging from humanitarian aid and medical assistance to agricultural productivity; from information dissemination to energy production; provision of basic services to ground-breaking science. Here are just some of the stories and activities that the Agency has been involved in the past 12 months:
- In January, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the IAEA purchased eight mobile x-ray units and sent them to Haiti to be used by doctors to diagnose and treat injuries and trauma patients. An estimated 250 000 injured required care, with the country´s radiography capabilities largely crippled by the disaster.
In February, the IAEA's unique capability to help Member States fight malnutrition by providing technical expertise in the use of stable isotope techniques was highlighted in a number of reports and focus pages. The IAEA's Division of Human Health helps to make these precision measurement techniques accessible to developing countries.
More than 60 countries are considering how to include nuclear power into their energy plans. During a meeting in February, approximately 100 representatives from 47 countries met to discuss ways to integrate security and safeguards considerations into the design and planning for nuclear power.
Through drip irrigation, water is targeted directly to the roots of the plants. This technique helps saving water and improving overall water quality and prevents fungal infections of the plants. Nineteen African countries are now part of the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Project that aims to promote drip irrigation for high-value crops. The results from the field have so far been impressive.
IAEA safeguards inspectors undergo rigorous training before they can start working. In February 2010, a new batch of IAEA safeguards inspectors finished an intensive training preparing them to embark on their first inspection at nuclear facilities around the world. There are currently 250 inspectors working at the IAEA, checking that no nuclear materials at safeguarded facilities are diverted for non-peaceful purposes.
The ample supply of water for farming and agriculture often means the difference between feast and famine. Many parts of the world, however, suffer from the opposite - the growing scarcity of water available for agriculture. A web story published in March reported how countries from Africa, the Middle East and Asia are having successes in water resource management with technical help from the IAEA.
On 29 March 2010, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and the Director General of the Russian Federation´s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), Sergey Kiriyenko, signed an agreement to establish a reserve of low enriched uranium (LEU) for supply to the IAEA for its Member States to be located at the International Uranium Enrichment Centre in Angarsk, Russia. The LEU reserve is being established to provide Member States protection against possible supply disruptions unrelated to technical or commercial considerations.
For almost 50 years the IAEA's laboratories at Seibersdorf in Austria and in Monaco have been undertaking groundbreaking research in areas like agriculture, climate change and water pollution. These laboratories also play a crucial role in verifying countries´ declared nuclear activity and building confidence that no undeclared activity is underway.
On the 31 March 2010 ground was broken at the IAEA's laboratories in Seibersdorf to mark the beginning of construction on the extension to the Department of Safeguards' Clean Laboratory. The Clean Lab tests environmental samples to make sure that there is no undeclared nuclear activity in Member States.
At the IAEA, gender focal points within each department have been instrumental in increasing the number of professional women working in traditionally male preserves such as safeguards, nuclear energy, nuclear scientific applications and technical cooperation. This was highlighted in an article on gender issues published to mark World Women´s Day in March 2010.
The International Conference on Management of Spent Fuel from Nuclear Power Reactors was held in Vienna from 31 May to 4 June 2010. The IAEA pays particular attention to the issue of spent fuel management. The Agency initiated, promotes and sustains a global safety regime that protects people and the environment from the effects of ionizing radiation. In particular, it actively advocates information collection, analysis and exchange on spent fuel management. To address these issues, more than 200 experts from over 40 countries met at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna.
On 3 May 2010, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addressed the opening session of the 2010 Review Conference of Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Under the NPT, the IAEA is mandated to verify that nuclear materials and technologies are not used to make nuclear weapons, as well as to help increase access to peaceful nuclear technologies' benefits.
On 13 May 2010, Chad became the 100th country to have completed requirements for putting into force the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. This was considered an important milestone in the effort to establish a strengthened global nuclear verification regime. The Additional Protocol to safeguards agreements between States and the IAEA is a legal instrument that grants IAEA inspectors expanded rights of access to information and locations in States.
To help countries plan for nuclear energy programmes, the IAEA offers them support in evaluating all energy supply options and assessing nuclear´s possible role. An increasing number of countries are now looking at the nuclear option as a way to secure the energy supply needed to support development. Nuclear power continues to grow: 56 new nuclear reactors are under construction, the largest number since 1992, according to Yury Sokolov, IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy.
Across the African continent, incidences of cancer have been rising at alarming rates in recent years. The IAEA joined the African Group on 24 June in commemorating Africa Day with an event that raised awareness of the need for increased cancer control measures in Africa. The commemoration was supported by the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Pprogramme for Africa (AFRA), the IAEA Division of Human Health and the IAEA's Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT).
The IAEA is working to ensure patient protection as radiation-based treatment become common practice. Thousands of health professionals from more than 70 countries have undergone training courses supported by the IAEA. It has also been organising a SmartCard/SmartRadTrack project to enable life history of exposure to radiation-based medical diagnostic and interventional procedures. This will help in avoiding repeat procedures in many situations.
The latest edition of Uranium 2009: Resources, Production and Demand was released in July 2010. Commonly known as the "Red Book" it indicates that at 2008 rates of consumption the total identified uranium resources are sufficient for over 100 years.
In August, the IAEA and other Vienna-based international organizations held a commemorative ceremony in remembrance of the nuclear bombings inflicted on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Addressing the gathering at the Vienna International Centre, Deputy Director General for Technical Cooperation, Ana María Cetto, said that disarmament was the only way forward.
On 16 August 2010, the IAEA and the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) signed a practical arrangement in the field of nuclear security in Beijing. Under this practical arrangement, China and the IAEA will work together to improve security in the East Asia region.
The IAEA's International Nuclear Information System (INIS) celebrated its 40th year of operation in 2010. The INIS Database contains over 3 million bibliographic records and a unique collection of over 250 000 full-text documents in 63 languages, including many documents that cannot easily be found anywhere else. As such, INIS fills a unique niche in the nuclear information landscape, providing a one-of-a-kind resource, which enables or facilitates safe, peaceful, and effective uses of nuclear energy.
Director General Yukiya Amano opened the 12th IAEA Scientific Forum in September with a call to unified action to fight the cancer epidemic in developing countries. He emphasized the fact that although the IAEA's role is important - involving radiotherapy, nuclear medicine, radiology and medical radiation physics - the Agency is just one element in the system, since cancer care also encompasses prevention, diagnosis, education and training.
At the IAEA's 54th General Conference beginning 20 September, Director General Amano summarized the Agency's activities and achievements, stressing the need to change the widespread perception of the IAEA as simply the world's "nuclear watchdog". This image does not do justice to the Agency's extensive activities in other areas, especially in nuclear energy, nuclear applications and technical cooperation.
On 11 October, the world's leading nuclear fusion researchers met to discuss ways to utilize fusion's potential for delivering clean, sustainable and abundant energy at the biennial Fusion Energy Conference in Daejeon, the Republic of Korea. Hosted by Korea's National Fusion Research Institute, the six-day conference assembled more physicists than ever before.
The IAEA International Safeguards Symposium: Preparing for Future Verification Challenges was held from 1-5 November 2010 at the Vienna International Centre. The Symposium´s primary objective was to foster dialogue and information exchange between the IAEA and experts from Member States, the nuclear industry and the broader nuclear non-proliferation community. The Symposium provided an opportunity for stakeholders to explore possible solutions in support of the IAEA's nuclear verification mission.
In December, a photo gallery on Success Stories in Technical Cooperation became the most-viewed page on the IAEA's web site, amassing a total of more than 40 000 unique views in less than a month - second only to the front page. This is seen as strong indication of popular interest in the IAEA's Technical Cooperation projects that directly impact developmental needs of Member States.
On 3 December 2010, the IAEA Board of Governors authorized the IAEA Director General to establish an IAEA LEU bank that will be owned and managed by the IAEA, supporting the multilateral effort to assure a supply of LEU for power generation. Donors to the IAEA LEU bank have pledged about US $125 million and €25 million to cover the establishment and initial operational expenses of the IAEA LEU bank.
On 22 December, more than 8 000 highly radioactive nuclear fuel elements arrived safely on 22 December at a secure Russian facility as part of an IAEA-coordinated effort to transfer the material from a Serbian nuclear research reactor. The fuel repatriation mission used trucks, trains and ships to move the fuel rods - some containing highly enriched uranium (HEU) - out of Serbia, where they posed both security and environmental risks.
To view a photo gallery of the year's highlights, please click here.