International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - UPSC Notes

The International Atomic Energy Agency is an important United Nations agency working in the field of nuclear cooperation. International agencies are relevant for the UPSC exam, particularly, the UPSC Prelims

In this article, you can read all about the IAEA, its functions, mandate, relations with India, all of which are important for the international relations segment of the UPSC syllabus.

In this article, you can read all about the International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA for the Civil Services Exam.

Aspirants can cover the topics mentioned in the UPSC Syllabus by following the below-mentioned links:

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

The IAEA is the international centre for cooperation in the nuclear/atomic field. It is a UN agency.  It works with its member countries and many partners to promote peaceful uses of nuclear technologies.

UPSC Prelims Facts - IAEA

IAEA History and Origins

IAEA’s origins can be traced back to an address of the former US President Dwight Eisenhower to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1953. 

  • The address was known as ‘Atoms for Peace’ and this was the organisation’s first name when it was formally established in 1957.
  • Headquartered in Vienna, Austria, the IAEA is a UN agency.
  • The primary mandate of the organisation was and continues to be promoting safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.
  • Currently, it has 171 members. The latest member is Saint Lucia which joined the IAEA in 2019.
  • India became a member in 1957 itself.
  • By ensuring the peaceful usage of nuclear technologies, the IAEA contributes to peace and security in the world and also towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The current Director-General of the organisation is Rafael Mariano Grossi.
  • The IAEA, along with its former Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
  • Although the IAEA is an independent international organisation, it reports annually to the UNGA.
  • The IAEA has regional offices in Geneva, New York, Toronto and Tokyo; and research laboratories in Austria, Italy and Monaco.

IAEA Functions

The functions of the IAEA are discussed below.

  • Promoting and assisting the research, development and practical applications of peaceful uses of nuclear technologies.
  • Establishing and administering safety guards to ensure that such research/development, etc., by the IAEA is not used for military purposes.
  • Applying, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other international treaties, mandatory comprehensive safeguards in non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS) parties to such treaties.

The IAEA’s three chief areas of work are:

  1. Safety and security
  2. Science and technology
  3. Safeguards and verification

**Iran has granted IAEA inspectors access to one of two sites where undeclared nuclear activity may have taken place in the early 2000s. Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia. The deal allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds). However, as per the report of IAEA, Iran continues to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium in violation of limitations set in the deal. Details on the same can be checked on the Iran Sanction page linked here.

IAEA Governance

The IAEA has two policymaking bodies. They are:

  1. General Conference
  2. Board of Governors

General Conference

  • It consists of all the member countries of the IAEA.
  • It meets in a regular annual session.
  • The annual general conference usually takes place in September.

64th General Conference of IAEA was held in Vienna from September 21st to 25th 2020.

Board of Governors

  • Here, there are 35 members.
  • The board members for 2020-21 are:
Argentina  Australia Austria Brazil Canada 
China Egypt Estonia France Germany 
Ghana  Greece Hungary India  Japan 
Kuwait Malaysia Mexico Mongolia  New Zealand
Nigeria  Norway Panama Paraguay Peru
Poland Russia Saudi Arabia Senegal South Africa
Sweden Switzerland UAE UK USA
  • The Board generally meets five times a year.
  • It examines and makes recommendations to the IAEA’s General Conference on the organisation’s programme, financial statements and budget. 
  • The Board considers membership applications, approves safeguards agreements and the publication of the safety standards of the IAEA. 
  • It also appoints the Director-General of the IAEA, with the approval of the General Conference. 


The IAEA also has a Secretariat which comprises the organisation’s professional and general service staff. It is headed by the Director-General.

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Related Links
World Health Organisation (WHO) Principal Organs of the UN
UPSC Current Affairs PIB Summary
Documents Required for UPSC Exam UPSC Monthly Current Affairs Magazine


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