International Atomic Energy Agency Current Affairs - 2020

Rafael Grossi elected new Director General of IAEA

Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina has been appointed as the new Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations’ nuclear watchdog. The Argentine diplomat will succeed late Yukiya Amano as the new chief of IAEA.

Key Highlights

The 58-year-old Gossi will be appointed for a term of four years and will assume office no later than 1 January 2020. He will be the sixth head of IAEA since it was founded more than six decades ago in 1957.

He will preside over the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the UN headquarter in New York from April to May 2020.

About International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

It is an international organization that promotes peaceful use of nuclear energy as well as inhibits the use of nuclear energy for any military purpose including nuclear weapons. It was established on 29 July 1957 with its headquarters in Vienna, Austria. It was created as an autonomous organisation through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute. Even though IAEA is established independently of United Nations, it reports to both United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC). IAEA General Conference consists of representatives of all 171 Member States.

About Rafael Grossi

He is a nuclear and diplomatic veteran from Buenos Aires in Argentina. He chaired expert panels on UN Register of Conventional Arms in 1997 and 2000. He was the chief political coordinator at Argentine Foreign Ministry from 2007-10, before being named an ambassador to Belgium, while doubling as Argentine envoy to United Nations office in Geneva. He served as a diplomat for a decade before holding several senior positions within UN. He has been Argentina’s ambassador to Slovakia, Slovenia and Austria and permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna since 2013.

From 2002 to 2007, he headed the IAEA headquarters in Vienna (Austrian capital) and UN’s Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Netherlands. In 2010, IAEA had appointed Grossi as its assistant director-general for a stint of three years. He also headed Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which is a multinational export control regime, the Convention on Nuclear Security and was deputy to the head of OPCW between 2014 and 2016.

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IAEA confirms Iran breached enriched Uranium Stockpile limit

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ atomic watchdog has confirmed that Iran has exceeded limit on amount of enriched uranium in its stockpile set out in 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

This marks the 1st major departure by Iran from unraveling agreement a year after U.S. unilaterally withdrew from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) accord.

Key Highlights

The initial announcement about Iran had broken limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 2015 nuclear deal were made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Limit Breached: Later IAEA inspectors verified and confirmed that the country has exceeded 300-kilogramme limit on its enriched uranium reserves.

Threat: Iran has threatened that country is planning to increase its enrichment of uranium closer to weapons-grade levels by July 7 and to suspend its other commitments under JCPOA deal in 10 days unless European powers took steps to implement their new mechanism called INSTEX for facilitating trade.

Iran also announced that it is planning to suspend other commitments also.

What is INSTEX?

INSTEX stands for Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges.

It is a special-purpose vehicle established in January 2019 by E3 i.e. France, Germany and United Kingdom to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran amid US unilateral withdrawal from JCPOA.

This new trading system is designed to circumvent sanctions on Iran. As of May 2019 use of SPV is limited to humanitarian purposes such as purchase of otherwise embargoed foods or medicines.

Issue: On 28 June 2019, EU stated that INSTEX has been made operational and that 1st transactions are being processed, but according to Iran, it did not meet countries needs.

About Iran Nuclear Deal

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) also known Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal was an agreement on Iranian nuclear program reached.

Participants: It was signed between Iran, P5+1 (refers to UN Security Council’s 5 permanent members (P5); namely France, United Kingdom, China, Russia, and US; plus Germany.), and European Union in Vienna on July 14, 2015.

Under the 2015 Nuclear Deal, Iran had agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in IAEA inspectors in return for lifting of sanctions.

Limit: As per the deal Iran can stockpile no more than 300kg of low-enriched uranium. Iran is permitted to produce low-enriched uranium, which has a 3.67% concentration of U-235, and can fuel a power plant only until 2031.

Uses: Enriched uranium used for peaceful purposes, including medical research and producing electricity but, if it is highly purified it can also be used to make a nuclear bomb.

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