Grossi sets out vision to 'recalibrate' the IAEA

06 February 2020

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi plans to "recalibrate" the work of the Vienna-based organisation, he told a prominent think-tank in Washington DC. The IAEA will become more visible and present in its mission, bolder in its nuclear security efforts and more proactive in representing nuclear energy in the climate debate, he said.

Grossi, on the right, with George Perkovich, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Image: E. Perez Alvan/IAEA)

Grossi spoke to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace yesterday, at the end of his first official visit to the USA since becoming IAEA director general in early December.

"Nuclear energy is growing everywhere - it's a reality", Grossi said, adding this could be considered to be a change of paradigm. Growth is happening both in established nuclear power countries such as China, India and Russia, and in newcomer countries such as Belarus, the United Arab Emirates and others. In addition, he said, many other countries are demonstrating an interest in including nuclear in their energy mix. This growth - and with it, an increasing number of nuclear facilities and quantity of nuclear materials - underlines the need for strengthened international efforts on nuclear safety and security, he said.

Grossi also highlighted climate change, noting that his first trip as director general had been to the United Nations COP25 climate summit which was held in Madrid in December. Inclusion in the summit, he said, had been a "first" for the IAEA.

"Nuclear must have a place at the table: it is illogical and ascientific to be worried about climate change [at the same time as] discarding a clean, low-carbon emitting energy [such as] nuclear," he said. "Let's discuss the facts and the science."

Grossi is liaising with the UK to ensure that nuclear power is part of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in November.

Many countries rely on the IAEA's technical cooperation efforts, he said, adding it is a "scandal" that people in some 28 countries in Africa are without access to radiotherapy to treat cancer. "The IAEA can do a lot in this respect," he said.

Acknowledging that the IAEA cannot demand more resources at a time when many of its member states are "struggling" with their own national budgets, he said the IAEA will be opening up to partnerships of different kinds and is for the first time talking "seriously" to regional development banks and the private sector.

"We are soliciting funds wherever they can be found for the mission that we have. This is one thing that you are going to see more of," he said. "The other thing that you are going to see more is an agency that is visible and present. We live at a time where communication is as important as the substance of your mission, because people need to understand … what you are trying to do for them. We need to go out and explain, and make time, and reach out and say why we're doing what we're doing."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News