IAEA faces challenge to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons

A major component of the International Atomic Energy Agency is to make sure the growth of nuclear power does not result in the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the agency's director-general said on Thursday.

Yukiya Amano made the remarks during the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century in St. Petersburg, Russia. Amano said the IAEA and the U.N.'s member states must work together to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"An important part of the IAEA's work is to ensure that the expansion of nuclear power does not lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons," Amano said. "In (the) future, our inspectors will have many more facilities to keep track of and much more nuclear material to monitor. I am confident that, with the support of our member states, the IAEA will rise to the challenge. We will continue to provide assurance that nuclear material held in non-nuclear-weapon states is being used for exclusively peaceful purposes."

Amano said the IAEA will host another conference in Vienna to discuss methods for preventing terrorists and criminals from getting a hold of nuclear materials.

"It is also important to ensure that nuclear and other radioactive materials do not fall into the hands of terrorists and criminals," Amano said. "Next week, the IAEA will host an International Conference on Nuclear Security at ministerial level in Vienna to consider ways of strengthening the global nuclear security framework."