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Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Technology for Development: IAEA Director General Briefs Researchers in Ireland


IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

The IAEA’s work in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and its support to countries to use nuclear science and technology for development were the focus of discussions and a speech by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in Ireland last week.

At his meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney, Mr Amano talked about the IAEA’s work to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They also discussed nuclear verification in Iran and the situation in North Korea.

With Minister of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Denis Naughton, Mr Amano discussed the IAEA’s contribution to combat climate change, including both adaptation and mitigation strategies. Mr Naughton spoke of the important role the IAEA plays in ensuring nuclear safety, in particular transport safety.

Mr Amano delivered a speech at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and emphasized the role of nuclear science for development.

“Nuclear science and technology play a much bigger role in our daily lives than most people realize,” he said. “We help countries use nuclear science and technology to produce more food, generate more electricity, treat cancer and respond to climate change.”

He highlighted how the IAEA helps countries increase seafood safety by detecting pollutants in the oceans, before they enter the food chain. He spoke of the Agency’s contribution to food security by improving plant breeding, soil and water management and crop nutrition. He described the IAEA’s work to support cancer control in developing countries, citing the example of Uganda: the country’s only radiotherapy machine broke down two years ago and, with the help of the IAEA, the Government has since installed a new one.

Mr Amano spoke of the importance of nuclear power, which can help address the twin challenges of ensuring reliable energy supplies and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. He discussed the IAEA’s role as the global platform for cooperation in nuclear safety and security and provided an overview of non-proliferation, including IAEA safeguards. Here, he described IAEA verification and monitoring activities in Iran and expressed the Agency’s continued concerns regarding North Korea.

“We follow developments such as [the recent] summit meeting between leaders of the two Koreas with great interest,” Mr Amano said. “We maintain our readiness to resume verification activities in North Korea when political developments make this possible.”

The so-called “Irish Resolutions” on nuclear disarmament at the United Nations, starting in 1958, paved the way for the eventual adoption of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), under which non-nuclear-weapon States are required to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA. Ireland was the first country to sign the NPT in 1968.

Many Irish scientists, engineers and diplomats have served at the IAEA over the last six decades. In recent years, radiation medicine experts from Cork University Hospital provided training to specialists from Slovakia with the support of the IAEA.

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