Releasing a major report on the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, signing and implementing with Iran the 'Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme', and promoting safe nuclear solutions towards sustainable development worldwide — these are some of the achievements of the IAEA in 2015, under its motto, Atoms for Peace and Development.
Below is a selection of highlights of the IAEA’s activities in furthering the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology and a look at the many topics in focus over the course of the year.
The IAEA released a major report by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano on the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant as part of continuous efforts to strengthen nuclear safety worldwide. Delivered to Member States in May, the 240-page report assesses the causes and consequences of the accident triggered by a huge tsunami that followed a massive earthquake on 11 March 2011. The report, and five technical volumes by leading experts, was later made available to the public in August and further discussed by experts at a side event held on the margins of the IAEA 59th General Conference in September.
Work related to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant continued throughout the year, including an expert review mission on progress made in decommissioning the damaged power plant and an international conference on Strengthening Research and Development Effectiveness in the Light of the Accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in February.
A major milestone regarding Iran’s nuclear programme was reached in July as Director General Amano and the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi signed a 'Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme' in Vienna. The IAEA and Iran agreed, in continuation of their cooperation under the Framework for Cooperation, to accelerate and strengthen their cooperation and dialogue aimed at the resolution of all past and present outstanding issues that have not already been resolved by the IAEA and Iran. The agreement came in parallel to an announcement of an Agreement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan reached between Iran and six countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States) and the European Union, known as the E3/EU+3.
During the months to follow, steps were taken in the context of these agreements towards their implementation, from authorization by the IAEA Board of Governors in August to the implementation of verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments, to accessing a location at the Parchin Site in Iran in September — a key provision of the Road-map between the IAEA and Iran.
A landmark resolution was adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors in December regarding Director General Amano’s report on the Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme. The report related to Iran’s possible military dimensions case and was the IAEA’s final step under the Road-map signed by the two sides.
Sustainable Development Goals
Adoption of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including a set of bold new Global Goals for humanity, in late September marked an important step for the international community toward stimulating action for humanity and the planet. In the lead-up to their adoption, speakers from both the IAEA and the wider development community emphasized in September how the peaceful uses of nuclear technology contribute to these goals through addressing a wide range of areas, including poverty, hunger, human health, clean water, climate change, affordable and clean energy, and industry and innovation. Read more about how the IAEA will contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.
During the historic Sustainable Development Summit where these Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted, Director General Amano underscored the importance of nuclear science and technology in their achievement and the role of the IAEA’s support in this international effort.
Nuclear power played a role at the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP21 Climate Conference in Paris where the IAEA participated and put forward, with its partners, nuclear energy for consideration in mitigating climate change. Find out what’s next after COP21 and read the IAEA Bulletin on Climate Change – Making a difference through nuclear technologies and the IAEA’s 2015 publication on Climate Change and Nuclear Power.
The relevance of nuclear science and technology in our everyday lives and industry was highlighted at this year’s Scientific Forum in September. Experts gathered for this annual event to discuss a wide range of topics related to the industrial application of nuclear technology and its importance for development. Topics included radiation technology and nuclear techniques to sterilize medical items, minimize dredging costs, increase crop yields, better heal wounds, preserve cultural heritage artefacts, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions among others. Watch this 2015 video to learn more about how radiation technologies play a role in daily life.
NPT Review Conference
When officials gathered at United Nations Headquarters for the 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in April, IAEA Director General Amano spoke about the common goals of the IAEA and the NPT related to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and promoting cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. He also organized an event on the Peaceful Uses Initiative where Japan and the United States pledged millions of euros, and presented the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Plan for 2014-2017. Watch this video to learn more about the Peaceful Uses Initiative.
IAEA Conferences and Events
The IAEA’s conferences and events throughout the year served as fodder and a platform for dialogue and continued work in the areas of nuclear science and technology, helping to further expand their peaceful uses. The meetings encompassed important aspects of the IAEA’s work related to safety and security, safeguards, non-proliferation, energy, science and research, and development.
In looking at the many dimensions of nuclear safety and security, experts considered the convergence of cyber security and nuclear security at a first of its kind event at the IAEA, and another group discussed best practices in operational safety and progress made in nuclear industry safety since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. The importance of emergency preparedness and response was also explored in terms of assessment and prognosis in response to nuclear or radiological emergencies and through a broader look at practices for national and global emergency preparedness and response.
In furthering the reach of peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology, medical professionals from various disciplines gathered to discuss imaging modalities like PET-CT and molecular imaging and the current status and trends in nuclear medicine, radiology and radiopharmaceutical sciences to further patient care. Isotope hydrology and its foundations and new frontiers also received attention, and a celebration of the International Year of Soils recognized the important relationship between healthy soils, food production, water management and development, and subsequently led to a proclaimed commitment in the Vienna Soil Declaration on ‘Soil matters for humans and ecosystems’. Professional development played a part as women in nuclear fields gathered to further work on leveling the playing field for female nuclear professionals and to broaden networks.
Discussions surrounding nuclear energy focused on, among others, integrated approaches to management of spent fuel from nuclear power reactors and the safe management and effective utilization of research reactors.
Recognition by the UN General Assembly
Toward the end of the year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that recognizes the importance of the IAEA’s work and supports its indispensable role “in encouraging and assisting the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses” as well as in transferring technology to developing countries and ensuring nuclear safety, security and verification.