Wed, Oct 12, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Prize affirms IAEA'a contributions

By Philip Yang 楊永明

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), one of the two recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize last week, was established nearly half a century ago. The organization's aim is to prevent nuclear technology from being used to develop nuclear weapons.

The nuclear threat posed by Iraq, North Korea and Iran over the past few years has made the organization the most important defense against the proliferation of nuclear arms.

In fact, the destructive force of nuclear weapons and the threat they pose to international and regional security has meant that ever since their first appearance, the international community has sought to restrain the proliferation and development of this ultimate weapon.

With the further development of nuclear weapons, peaceful use of nuclear technology has also become widespread. Concerns over the development of nuclear weapons, however, has caused people to question the transfer of nuclear technology. Proposed and driven by the US, the IAEA was set up by the UN in 1957 as the primary institution for promoting and supervising the peaceful use of nuclear technologies and raw materials to ensure that they are not used for military research and the development of nuclear arms.

In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis pushed the US and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. After that, bowing to international pressure, the US, the UK and the former Soviet Union all refrained from nuclear tests, and in 1968 the international community signed a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This was a crucial milestone, and most nations have now ratified it.

The only states not to have done so are Cuba, India, Pakistan, Israel and Taiwan.

The main thrust of the NPT is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to more nations, while ensuring that fair and correct peaceful use of nuclear technology can continue in every nation under the auspices of the international community.

Article 3 of the NPT stipulates that each non-nuclear-weapon state that is party to the treaty undertakes to accept safeguards -- as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the IAEA in accordance with the Statute of the IAEA and the agency's safeguards system -- for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under the treaty, with a view toward preventing the diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other explosive nuclear devices.

Although the IAEA is facing an increasingly tough challenge, it has won widespread support in the international community. It is carrying out the significant mission of preventing nuclear proliferation, while also remaining neutral and playing the role of an expert to avoid becoming a diplomatic pawn caught between superpowers.

By sharing the peace prize with the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, its director general, has been recognized for his skillful and just role in dealing with nuclear issues relating to Iraq, Iran and North Korea, countries which were slammed by US President George W. Bush as comprising an "axis of evil."

ElBaradei's way of doing things is characterized by two main qualities. First, he favors controls and a diplomatic approach over an immediate resort to military force. He believes that a supervisory organization is only useful if it can carry out its supervision, relying on appropriate force and useful information, while at the same time enjoying the support of an international consensus. He also insists on the IAEA's expertise and neutrality.

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