The IAEA was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears and expectations resulting from the discovery of nuclear energy. The Agency’s genesis was US President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 8 December 1953. The IAEA is thus known as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organisation. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
The IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna.
Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and UN Security Council. The IAEA however is an autonomous organisation and it is not under the direct control of the UN.
The IAEA serves as an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology and nuclear power worldwide. The programs of the IAEA encourage the development of the peaceful applications of nuclear technology, provide international safeguards against misuse of nuclear technology and nuclear materials, and promote nuclear safety (including radiation protection) and nuclear security standards and their implementation.
The IAEA exists to pursue the “safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear sciences and technology” (Pillars 2005). The IAEA executes this mission with three main functions:
- the inspection of existing nuclear facilities to ensure their peaceful use,
- providing information and developing standards to ensure the safety and security of nuclear facilities, and
- as a hub for the various fields of science involved in the peaceful applications of nuclear technology.
Signature and ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) are not preconditions for membership in the IAEA.
India is a founding member of IAEA.
Currently, IAEA has 168 member states (as of February 2016). North Korea is no longer a member of IAEA.
The IAEA and its former Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 7 October 2005. The IAEA’s current Director General is Yukiya Amano.