When the IAEA Statute entered into force on 29 July 1957, the agency could not implement any sanctions among countries. With such limited powers, it soon became clear that the political climate of the time was going to limit the agency’s ability to act on a global scale. It was not until after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, which drew international attention to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, that the IAEA really began to execute its duties as outlined in its Statute. This increase in productivity was furthered by the 1968 passage of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Today, the IAEA hosts programs related to nuclear safety, nuclear medical technology, and nuclear science for food security, as well as focusing on preventing nuclear disasters like Chernobyl or Fukushima. The main goal of the IAEA is to help promote ‘safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology’ through means such as inspections as well as to ensure that states are complying with commitments and safety standards.
Topic A: Nuclear Techniques for Containing Vector-Borne Diseases
Vector-borne diseases are pathogenic, carried and transmitted to humans and other animals by infective agents, typically mosquitoes or ticks. Such transmissions have been on the rise as remote areas have become interconnected by globalization and exposed to diseases unfamiliar to the region. The effects of this are widespread. Infections may be passed to humans or livestock and agricultural productivity may be crippled, threatening human public health and well-being. Nuclear and nuclear-derived technologies can be used to sequence and identify pathogens and also to control potential outbreaks by irradiative methods. As part of a joint programme with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the IAEA has developed, and continues to refine, pest control efforts through research, symposiums, training, and technical cooperation projects in member states. The goal of the IAEA is to determine the best course of action for improving and implementing current technologies to support the eradication of vector populations.
Topic B: Legal and Regulatory Framework for Nuclear Energy Development
The International Atomic Energy Agency promotes international cooperation for safe nuclear application, but the framework and many subsequent regulations are based nationally. As a result, the permission for and process of developing nuclear technology varies from state to state, despite the possibility that surrounding countries can be impacted by a decision they did not make. Legal frameworking is thus an important prerequisite for countries developing nuclear technology. This framework also addresses issues such as licensing, which is necessary for newer countries. Specifically, countries looking to start nuclear energy programs based on those of countries with already established nuclear programs–such as Russia, China, and the United States–require additional focus. This movement is part of a larger effort to encourage countries turning toward nuclear energy to develop additional safety standards beyond the broad nature of the IAEA’s criteria. This topic directly addresses issues regarding accountability, management, and safety, all leading up to the physical development of nuclear energy components and plants.