ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is one of the independent intergovernmental organizations of the United Nations (UN). It was founded as a response to the possible threats that nuclear energy can cause to the global community. Concurrently, the IAEA is dedicated to improving the contributions of atomic energy as a tool for peacebuilding and ensuring that the assistance of the organization is not used for military purposes.
The agency was created by representatives from over 80 Member States in 1956. Its mandated activities include research on the utilization and application of atomic energy in the fields of agriculture, medicine, water resources, and industry. The IAEA can conduct operations for conferences, fellowships, training programs, and academic publications on technical information and skills. Subsequently, the IAEA provides technical assistance to developing countries, while establishing administrations as measures to safeguard from radiation. The reason why the IAEA has been tasked to make necessary safeguards originates from the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968), which stipulates all non-nuclear powers to negotiate a safeguard agreement with the IAEA, thus giving the said organization authority to monitor nuclear programs and inspect facilities, such as power plants, of the Member States that ratified the treaty.
Presently, the IAEA has 173 Member States within the organization. Any country can become a member of the IAEA if they are a member of the UN and sign and ratify the IAEA Statute. The members of the IAEA have a General Conference, where they meet annually to approve the budget and programs and to debate on general policies. Moreover, the conference is where the members approve the appointment of the Director-General, the one in charge of overseeing the IAEA, and admitting new members. Concurrently, the Board of Governors, who meet at least five times a year, is in charge of carrying out the organization’s statutory functions and approving the safeguard agreements between the IAEA and a Member State.
In conclusion, the main objective of the IAEA is for the peaceful and progressive use of nuclear materials. However, the organization faces the arduous challenges of advancing nuclear technology and spreading updated and efficient knowledge on sustainable usage of nuclear energy, while simultaneously preventing the development of nuclear arsenals that can potentially threaten peacebuilding initiatives. The operations of the IAEA remain crucial in setting standards for nuclear security and guaranteeing the protection of the environment and human health.
DEALING WITH THE FUKUSHIMA WASTEWATER ISSUE
Currently, the Japanese government is facing criticism for how it plans on handling more than a million tons of wastewater from the nuclear power plant, Fukushima, crippled nuclear reactors. One of the government’s plans of action is to remove the most harmful radioactive material from water and then gradually release it into the ocean. Retroactively, many countries from around Asia, especially China and South Korea, have called out Japan’s action is an immediate threat to the marine environment. Japan remains steadfast in dismissing criticisms ad unscientific as the wastewater is within safety standards and other countries also routinely dump waste into the ocean. The Delegates of IAEA are challenged to come up with safeguards to ensure the wastewater of Fukushima is properly disposed of while ensuring the safety of the oceans. Discussions can involve whether or not Japan has jurisdiction to dump the wastewater or whether the wastewater is safe to dump, as long as it meets the criteria approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).