IAEA Head Yukiya Amano Talks Atoms for Peace

In New York this week for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spoke to the UN News Centre about the importance of strengthening the Treaty’s three pillars —disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

The IAEA mission team studies a water purification system that removes radioactive elements from water during a visit to the Fukushima power plant in Japan. Photo: Susanna Loof/IAEA

“When I became the Director General, I said that as I come from a country with the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I will stay firm against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Yukiya Amano, a former Japanese diplomat, has served as Director General of the IAEA— the UN’s nuclear watchdog —since 2009. The Vienna-based UN body was set up in 1957 as the world’s center for cooperation in the nuclear field. It works with its member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear technologies, as well as to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In this interview, Amano explains the importance of Atoms for Peace: the transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful applications.  Nuclear technology is very effective in the protection of health and the environment, controlling water, fighting against cancer, and a number of applications for industry and agriculture, he says. For example, few people know that the IAEA provided assistance in the recent outbreak of Ebola, specifically with kits to diagnose Ebola virus disease. This technology made it possible to diagnose in four hours instead of four days. As Amano says, “That difference between four hours and four days makes a huge difference to saving lives of patients and preventing the spread of the disease.”

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