The chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday aims to change the widespread perception of the agency as the world's "nuclear watchdog."
The label "does not do justice to our extensive activities in other areas, especially in nuclear energy, nuclear science and applications, and technical cooperation," said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano as he presented his first report to the UN General Assembly.
Established by the UN in 1957 as the "Atoms for Peace" organization, the Vienna-based IAEA gained its reputation as the world's nuclear watchdog from its nuclear verification activities and reports of "non-compliance" by states that have failed to abide by the safeguards imposed by the agency.
As countries consider introducing nuclear energy and expanding their nuclear power, the IAEA will need to cement its role in assisting such developments.
"When countries express an interest in introducing nuclear power, we offer advice in many areas, including on how to put the appropriate legal and regulatory framework in place and how to ensure the highest standards of safety and security, without increasing proliferation risks," he said.
However, Amano added that "access to nuclear power should not be limited to developed countries but should be available to developing countries as well."
The IAEA chief encouraged international lending institutions to place greater consideration in funding nuclear power projects, as he drew the Assembly's attention to practical applications of nuclear energy.
"The benefits of nuclear power in mitigating the negative effects of climate change deserve wider recognition in the relevant international fora," he said.
Despite efforts to expand the perception of the IAEA as simply the world's "nuclear watchdog," the agency's role in nuclear verification has garnered the greatest attention amongst UN member states.
Amano stressed that "all safeguard agreements between states and the agency, and other relevant obligations, should be implemented fully."
Meanwhile, the IAEA chief noted that the nuclear program of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) "remains a matter of serious concern," including Iran's failure to provide "the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."