IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addressing delegates at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo: C. Brady/IAEA)
Cultivating new varieties of rice, reducing soil erosion rates and improving imaging techniques for cancer treatment are just some of the areas in which the IAEA helps Malaysia to benefit from nuclear technology. Assisting Member States in the use of nuclear technology for development is as important to the IAEA as its non-proliferation work, said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA, in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. “For many developing countries, it is the most important part.”
“Our mandate has been summarised as “Atoms for Peace,” which was the title of a famous speech by President Eisenhower in 1953 in which he proposed the creation of the IAEA,” Mr Amano added. “I believe we could now expand that to “Atoms for Peace and Development.””
In a lecture at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, Mr Amano thanked the Malaysian government for its contribution to the IAEA’s work. This includes inviting students from universities from across Southeast Asia to conduct experiments at the Puspati research reactor and sharing the country’s expertise in nuclear security to protect nuclear and other radioactive materials from theft and misuse. Such assistance to other developing nations, often referred to as South-South cooperation, significantly increases the reach and impact of the IAEA, Mr Amano said.
IAEA and the Sustainable Development Goals
Mr Amano said that the IAEA aims to play an active role in the post-2015 development agenda, the emerging framework of development goals that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals – a set of eight global development targets identified for the first fifteen years of the 21st century. “I would like to see the IAEA recognised as a unique stakeholder which promotes development through the use of nuclear technology,” he added.
Mr Amano said he continued to pay special attention to the growing problem of cancer in developing countries. The IAEA, working with the World Health Organization, helps to make radiotherapy available to patients in developing countries, some of which have previously had no modern cancer diagnostic or treatment services. “In the last eight years alone, we sent specialist teams to assess cancer control capacity in over 65 countries,” he said.
Talking of Malaysia’s energy policy, he reiterated the IAEA’s commitment to provide assistance if the country decides to build a nuclear power plant. “It is up to each country to decide whether or not to use nuclear power,” Mr Amano said. “If countries decide to proceed, the Agency’s job is to help them to do it safely, securely and efficiently.”
The IAEA has delivered concrete results, he said, and is counting on the support of Member States like Malaysia to continue its mission. “We have a solid record of achievement, but it is essential to maintain the momentum in meeting the changing needs of our Member States in the coming years.”
The lecture was part of a two-day visit to Malaysia, the first stop on the Director General’s five-country tour of Southeast Asia. He met Foreign Minister Sri Anifah Hj. Aman, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Ewon Ebin, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mah Siew Keong and Dr Muhamad Bin Lebai Juri, Director General of the Malaysian Nuclear Agency.