The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)- In the pursuit of safe nuclear energy

After three full days of debating on their draft resolutions for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – an international organization aimed at promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy and deterring its military use – on January 24, delegates representing over fifty ninety nations passed all of the proposed draft resolutions regarding nuclear energy development in developing nations.

Confronted with the expected seventy-five per cent decrease in available fossil fuels in twenty years and the increase of their use by forty-three per cent by 2035, delegates were faced with the task of addressing the topic of nuclear energy as a new source of energy for developing nations. When formulating their draft resolutions, delegates had to take into account the inability of developing nations to account for construction expenses associated with building Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs), the preparedness of these nations in the event of possible safety and security concerns in NPP-related disasters, as well as their true intentions behind nuclear energy use.

The first draft resolution titled “Empowering Developing Nations (EDN)” was aimed at creating a new IAEA project, Project EDN. The project assists developing nations in their pursuit of nuclear energy, both monetarily and for security purposes. Its sponsors were India, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey and Zimbabwe. Project EDN would be partly funded by the IAEA as well as by voluntary nations, and it would cut down on the usual cost of constructing NPPs through its particular design and its use of materials. The project would also provide training in safety measures through existing education programs offered by the IAEA, and each NPP infrastructure would be tailored to the needs and unique characteristics of each nation.

The second draft resolution titled “SAFE” likewise focused on funding developing nations in the construction of NPPs but it also placed emphasis on evaluating the effectiveness and feasibility of nuclear power programs and on enforcing current IAEA standards for nuclear energy use. Its sponsors were the Czech Republic, Germany, the State of Kuwait, Marshall Islands, and Switzerland.

The third draft resolution titled “FUN” was dedicated to educating developing nations, by formulating training programs on safety regulations and creating education exchange programs between developing and developed nations on teachings in nuclear technology. This resolution also indicated an interest in expanding the IAEA’s Mentorship Program, formally known as the Integrated Nuclear Energy Review Mission, to provide assistance to developing nations in the infrastructures best suited to their needs and in funding their NPPs’ development. “FUN”’s sponsors included Argentina, Honduras, Israel, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Tanzania, Slovakia, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam

During a moderated caucus, nations tended to address the “FUN” resolution the most. Vietnam, a sponsor of “FUN,” asserted that it was the most comprehensive draft resolution out of the three. “It includes education, cooperation, safety and security concerns, and implementation plans for individual countries. What makes our resolution unique is that there’s a particular mentorship program and there’s the ability of making your own individual policy. If you don’t have a specific plan for nuclear energy, you can seek out information anyway,” it stated.

Spain, a signatory of “FUN,” added that this mentorship program “will empower developing nations,” and that it requires little funds as it already builds upon the IAEA’s own mentorship program.

Jordan, however, took issue with both “FUN” and “SAFE” arguing that the negative effects of total desertification of specifically developing Middle Eastern nations in their construction of NPPs was not taken into account in these draft resolutions. Israel, however, held firm that “FUN” in particular was “built by developing countries, for developing countries.”

Slovakia and Brazil, on the other hand, both asserted that, as “FUN” was a merged draft resolution amongst several draft resolutions, they believed that it had lost its integrity. “It’s become more diluted, like a house of cards, and it’s lost its original claim,” said Slovakia. Slovakia subsequently announced its withdrawal as a sponsor from “FUN.”

Despite Slovakia and Brazil’s concerns over mergers between draft resolutions, “SAFE” and “EDN” merged, and this merged draft resolution eventually passed. “FUN” also overwhelmingly passed.

“The strength of this committee has really lied in the delegates,” stated Koray Demir, the Chair of the IAEA committee. “All of the delegates are really strong and really committed. They’re really good people in terms of wanting to pursue this committee as though this were an actual committee session, a peaceful committee session dedicated to the nonproliferation of nuclear war,” he stated.