The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was founded in 1957 as an autonomous intergovernmental organisation. It reports regularly to the United Nations General Assembly and has a duty to notify the United Nations Security Council directly if a threat to world peace has been ascertained (IAEA Statute, Article III B 4). Germany has been a member of the IAEA since its founding year 1957 and is permanently represented on its monitoring and governing body - the IAEA Board of Governors.
Representatives from all its current 173 member states (as of May 2021) attend the IAEA's annual General Conference. The Board of Governors meets once a quarter, while the Programme and Budget Committee (PBC) and the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee (TACC) each convene every six months.
The focus of IAEA’s work is nuclear technology and applications, nuclear safety and security and safeguards.
The IAEA globally promotes the peaceful use of nuclear power by means of technical conferences, coordinated research contracts, services (in particular review services in the form of expert-led international missions dedicated to specific issues), databases and comprehensive documentation and publication activities. It provides support to developing countries, for example with regard to the use of nuclear applications in the fields of medicine, water and agriculture.
It sends in its own experts to provide developing countries with assistance, for example nuclear applications in the fields of medicine, water and agriculture, as well as funding scholarships and training courses, et cetera.
The IAEA supports international monitoring cooperation and harmonisation by producing safety standards and recommendations for instance on reactor safety, radiation protection, nuclear waste management, transport of radioactive substances, radiation emergency preparedness and security of nuclear facilities and nuclear materials. It fosters the physical protection of nuclear material against misuse, for example with the aim of combatting nuclear smuggling.
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment is represented on the Commission on Safety Standards (CSS), as well as on the NUSSC (nuclear safety standards), WASSC (waste safety standards), RASSC (radiation safety standards), TRANSSC (transport safety standards) and EPReSC (emergency preparedness and response standards) committees.
In addition, the German Federal Environment Ministry is also represented on the Nuclear Security Guidance Committee.
The IAEA monitors both the use and the location of nuclear materials in nuclear facilities in the framework of the Safeguards Agreement entered into with its member states. The aim is to ensure that the facilities monitored confine their activities solely to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.