The IAEA was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears and expectations resulting from the discovery of nuclear energy. Its fortunes are uniquely geared to this controversial technology that can be used either as a weapon or as a practical and useful tool.
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. These ideas helped to shape the IAEA Statute, which 81 nations unanimously approved in October 1956. The Statute outlines the three pillars of the Agency's work - nuclear verification and security, safety and technology transfer. IAEA has 140 member states (March 2006).
In 1961 the IAEA opened its Laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, creating a channel for cooperative global nuclear research. That year the Agency signed a trilateral agreement with Monaco and the Oceanographic Institute headed by Jacques Cousteau for research on the effects of radioactivity in the sea, an action that eventually lead to the creation of the IAEA's Marine Environment Laboratory.
The IAEA is the world's nuclear inspectorate, with more than four decades of verification experience. Inspectors work to verify that safeguarded nuclear material and activities are not used for military purposes. The Agency is additionally responsible for the nuclear file in Iraq as mandated by the UN Security Council.
The IAEA helps countries to upgrade nuclear safety and security, and to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Work is keyed to international conventions, standards and expert guidance. The main aim is to protect people and the environment from harmful radiation exposure.
The IAEA is the world's focal point to mobilize peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology for critical needs in developing countries. The work contributes to fighting poverty, disease, pollution of the environment, and to other goals of sustainable development.
In 2005 the IAEA and its director general Mohammed ElBaradei were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way. In addition IAEA has been awarded many prizes. On 13 May 2006 in Middelburg, the Netherlands, the International Four Freedoms award was presented to Dr. ElBaradei by the Roosevelt Stichting. The award celebrates four essential values for humanity and freedom as outlined by Franklin Roosevelt some 65 years ago. The Foundation honoured Dr. ElBaradei with its top award for his work as the IAEA head "where he has done everything in his power to prevent and control nuclear threats". (photo: AP/Bas Czerwinski)
The official IAEA website.
Flag of IAEA in Flags of the World.
Article on IAEA in Wikipedia.
Stamp catalogue - general issues