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.
|55th Strategy for Peace Conference
The conference, brought together experts from the public and private sectors to meet in a distraction-free setting and candidly exchange ideas on pressing foreign policy challenges.
Divided into roundtable talks, the cutting-edge discussions are intended to inspire group consensus and shared recommendations to push forward the debate on the foundation’s key policy areas.
The newest issue of Courier features an interview with award-winning author Anchee Min on China, peace, and human dignity. The issue also examines the need for more ambitious climate diplomacy in order to protect areas like the Marshall Islands and explores the critical need for preventing political violence that can lead to mass atrocities and genocide.
|Nuclear Security Video
The Stanley Foundation produced a 13-minute video looking at what needs to be done to stop terrorist groups from acquiring enough fissile material to make a bomb. The foundation talked with over a dozen diverse and distinguished experts from the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group and the Fissile Materials Working Group to see how today's patchwork of voluntary arrangements can be forged into a long-lasting system. Watch the video.
Our bimonthly newsletter looks at a Latin America network to stop mass atrocities as well as a seminar for journalists aimed at demystifying nuclear lingo. We also have a slideshow of our annual Investigation U. summer camp for students.
In the latest, you’ll find many extras—from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up now
This Now Showing event-in-a-box toolkit Before the Killing Begins: The Politics of Mass Violence considers how early preventive strategies by governments and the international community should build much-needed capacities within countries, and make it harder for leaders to resort to violence. It aims to encourage discussion of how future efforts might better protect populations under threat, giving new resolve to the promise of never again. Sign Up.
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues.
|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.