“I use ‘disruptive’ in both its good and bad connotations. Disruptive scientific and technological progress is not to me inherently good or inherently evil. But its arc is for us to shape. Technology’s progress is furthermore in my judgment unstoppable. But it is quite incorrect that it unfolds inexorably according to its own internal logic and the laws of nature.”
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, has announced that the IAEA will henceforth “mainstream” its nuclear security activities. Since the Nuclear Security Summit process ended in 2016 the Vienna-based Agency has resumed its role as the most important multilateral body dealing with nuclear security. While, as expected, it has been unable to replicate the high-level political profile afforded to nuclear security by the summits, it has ramped up its convening activities, adopted new thematic approaches, and consolidated its advisory and technical services. But it is not clear what DG Amano’s statement implied for the future of the Agency's role in nuclear security and for its other mandates. Dr. Findlay will appraise the IAEA's profile since 2016, consider the likely meaning and implications of “mainstreaming” such activity into the Agency's broader portfolio, and propose ways of enhancing the organization's vital contribution in the future.
Trevor Findlay is a Principal Fellow at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne and an MTA Associate. He is the author of Unleashing the Nuclear Watchdog: Strengthening and Reform of the IAEA, published by the Centre for International Governance Innovation in 2012, and several MTA research papers, including What Price Nuclear Governance? Funding the International Atomic Energy Agency, Proliferation Alert! The IAEA and Non-Compliance Reporting, and Beyond Nuclear Summitry: The Role of the IAEA in Nuclear Security Diplomacy After 2016.