International Atomic Energy Agency Current Affairs - 2020

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Iran to continue enriching Uranium despite US move

Iran announced it will continue with its low-level uranium enrichment in line with its nuclear deal with world powers. This move comes when on 3 May 2019, US forced Iran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and halt expanding its only nuclear power plant, thus intensifying campaign aimed at stopping Tehran’s ballistic missile programme and curbing its regional power.

Move taken by US against Iran

  • US efforts to impose political and economic isolation on Tehran began in 2018 when US President Trump unilaterally withdrew from nuclear deal which US and other world powers negotiated with Iran in 2015.
  • US also scrapped its sanctions waiver under 2015 nuclear deal which until now allowed Iran to ship low enriched uranium produced at its Natanz facility, to Russia before it hit 300 kg limit and can even evade 300 kg limit on amount of low-enriched uranium it can store.
  • In recent move US announced discontinuing waivers and sanctions for countries (even India) buying oil from Iranian oil. It is an attempt to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
  • It also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorist Organization.

Arguments by Iran

  • As per (nuclear accord) Iran can produce heavy water (which is employed in reactors to produce plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear warheads), as this does not violate agreement so Iran will carry on with enrichment activity.
  • Its low-enriched uranium production helps Iran produce electricity.
  • Iran called for talks with its other partners in nuclear deal and UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to approve that Iran can enrich fuel to 20 percent and higher.
  • It is trying to counter US sanctions by continuing to export its oil at the same time boosting its non-oil exports.
  • In a move to increase its hard currency income and cut down currency expenditures, Iran will increase production and raise non-oil exports.

IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency

  • It was established in 1957as an autonomous organization with headquarters Vienna. It’s objective is to promote peaceful use of nuclear energy, and prevent its use for any military purpose, including production of nuclear weapons.
  • Although it is independent of UN but it reports to both United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and to UN Security Council (UNSC).
  • It won Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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India puts four more nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards

India has decided to place four more reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. It was announced Sekhar Basu, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) at 62nd General Conference of IAEA held in Vienna, Austria. The four reactors include two Russian-designed Pressurised Light Water Reactors and two Pressurised Heavy Reactors being built with Indian technology. With this, total of 26 Indian nuclear facilities will be now under IAEA safeguards.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

IAEA is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. It was established as an autonomous organization in 1957 through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute. Its headquarters are in Vienna, Austria. IAEA serves as international nuclear energy watchdog, independent of United Nations but reports to both United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and Security Council (UNSC).

IAEA Safeguards

They are system of inspection and verification of peaceful uses of nuclear materials as part of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). These safeguards mainly reiterates primacy to IAEA in its central role in promotion of atomic energy for peaceful uses and prosperity of the mankind while maintaining its due support in safeguards. IAEA safeguards activities are undertaken by Department of Safeguards, a separate department within IAEA.

Legal framework of safeguards: Information Circular 66 (INFCIRC 66), an agreement between IAEA and member states provides for conduct of limited safeguards within member state. Under it, member states identifies facilities that are made available for IAEA Safeguards inspection. Besides, Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), 1968 requires signatories to become members of IAEA and non-nuclear weapons states conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements under INFCIRC 153.

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