Created in 1957 as the "Atoms for Peace" organization proposed to the United Nations by US President Eisenhower, the IAEA is facing new sets of challenges and opportunities nearly a half century later.
The IAEA officially turns 45 on 29 July 2002, a time when new issues are shaping its future. In recent years, the three pillars of the Agency's work -- nuclear verification and security, safety, and technology transfer -- have taken on some urgent added dimensions. Among them are countermeasures against the threat of nuclear terrorism, the focus of a new multi-faceted Agency action plan.
"Governments and the IAEA are working overtime on this problem, and we have every intention of continuing until the threat has been vastly reduced," IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in a recent essay. "But this will not happen overnight....and will require a sustained and concerted effort."
In its latest Annual Report, issued this week, the IAEA reported on the state of nuclear development worldwide. "The peaceful uses of nuclear energy will continue to be an important factor in economic development and in improving human welfare," the IAEA reported, emphasizing that it "continues to press for a comprehensive and effective nuclear safety regime" and a "state-of-the-art verification system" for safeguarding nuclear material and activities.
The Agency reaffirmed its commitment to reinforcing active partnerships with governments, organizations and other constituencies in its 134 Member States. "Many challenges face the world today," it reported. "To move forward on all these fronts, active partnership is indispensable."