U.N. atomic agency focused on peaceful pursuit of nuclear technology

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s atomic watchdog agency, continues to pursue its goal of promoting secure, safe and peaceful nuclear technologies, the agency's chief said on Tuesday.

During a presentation to the U.N. General Assembly, Yukiya Amano, the director general of the IAEA, said that just four years after U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower called for the establishment of a body that put nuclear material to use in the peaceful pursuits of mankind, the IAEA began its work in 1957.

"Since then, the agency has worked hard to bring the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology to all parts of the globe and to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons," Amano said.

Amano said the IAEA now helps developed countries provide cancer treatment and verifies the non-diversion of nuclear material for military purposes. He said despite an evolving world, the agency still seeks the same goals it did nearly 60 years ago.

"The world has changed enormously in that time," Amano said. "But the 'Atoms for Peace' mission has lost none of its relevance. The agency has successfully adapted to changing times and the evolving needs of Member States."

Amano also noted the verification of the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran. He said the agency is not able to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear activities and material.

"The agency therefore cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," Amano said.

Amano also expressed his concern about the nuclear program of North Korea.

"The (Democratic People's Republic of Korea's) statements concerning a third nuclear test and its intention to restart its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, together with its previous statements about uranium enrichment activities and the construction of a light water reactor, are deeply regrettable," Amano said.

The IAEA has not been able to implement any verification measures in North Korea since April 2009.