New Chief of IAEA Enters 'Stormy' Times
The new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency stepped into the job earlier this month with some big shoes to fill and some immediate crises in Iran and North Korea to deal with.
Career Japanese diplomat and attorney Yukiya Amano, 62, is the first Asian to lead the agency. He is also from the only country ever attacked with nuclear weapons and grew up as Japan coped with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki following World War II.
As Amano took office, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a defiant statement about his country’s plans to build more uranium enrichment facilities: "Friendly relations with the agency are over."
Outgoing IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, who was awarded a Pulitzer Peace Prize as agency chief, declared the Iranian nuclear talks were at a "dead end" before leaving office.
North Korea, which has requested a peace pact and direct talks with the United States, was visited last week by Stephen Bosworth, US special representative for North Korean Policy. The meeting resulted in an acknowledgment by North Korea of the need to return to the six-party talks, but no firm pledge.
These crises, combined with the perennial budget challenges at the agency, were clearly on Amano’s mind the day he took office.
"The situation surrounding the Agency is stormy now," he said. "We have a lot of difficult challenges, but I would like to do my best. I would like to address the global issues that include non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, enhancing nuclear security, addressing the energy need, providing good health care, and water management, among others. I will try to be an impartial, reliable, and professional Director General."
Dr. Chen Kane, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute, said Amano faces the "challenge of managing a technical agency that covers highly political charged issues."
"Amano will have to find the right balance between sustaining the IAEA’s credibility in the area of safeguards and mending the growing rift between the West and the Non-Aligned Movement on issues of nuclear energy, proliferation, and disarmament."
These issues are also key to securing nuclear materials within four years, a goal outlined by President Obama, who has called a 40-plus-nation heads-of-state summit in April to discuss the policy objective. A recent Stanley Foundation dialogue discussed multilateral solutions for securing nuclear materials and examined, in part, redefining and strengthening the IAEA.
In addition, a group of more than 40 nuclear policy experts has formed the Fissile Materials Working Group, which recently sent a letter to President Obama outlining five ways he could achieve this goal. The group just announced it would host an NGO summit in Washington, DC, on April 12, in advance of the leaders’ summit to provide analysis, education, and policy recommendations that highlight the urgency of nuclear security efforts.
The Spring 2017 issue of Courier provides insight and perspective on different global policy areas, including mass atrocity prevention in the Gambia and climate change agricultural innovation in Morocco. This issue also features a special look at the global order by Stanley Foundation president, Keith Porter; a feature on the struggle of a Somalian refugee hoping to resettle in the US; and a Q&A from our latest explorer award winner. The full Spring 2017 issue. PDF (1,151K) Subscribe for FREE.
Our bimonthly newsletter is filled with resources to keep you up to date with our work at the Stanley Foundation. Each edition includes news about recent publications and stories as well as features our people and partners.
You will also find many extras, from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up for the latest to stay engaged on key global issues.
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues. To reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste, we almost exclusively, use electronic distribution for our publications. Sign up to receive our resources via e-mail.
|Watch and Learn
Stanley Foundation events, talks, video reports, and segments from our Now Showing event-in-a-box series can now be viewed on YouTube. To receive regular updates on our video posts, please subscribe today.