The mandate for the IAEA's technical cooperation programme is drawn from Article II of the IAEA Statute, which states:
|"The Agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world. It shall ensure, so far as it is able, that assistance provided by it or at its request or under its supervision or control is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose."|
In addition, although the adoption of the IAEA Statute preceded the negotiation of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by more than a decade, a wide array of the IAEA’s activities are relevant to Article IV of the NPT, which refers to "the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination", and goes on to state “All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.”
While the IAEA is not specifically referred to in Article IV of the NPT, it is widely considered to be the principal means of transfer of technology by international organizations referred to in Article IV.2 of the NPT. The principal delivery mechanism for this transfer is the technical cooperation programme.