ABU DHABI (Sputnik) — William D. Magwood, IV, the director-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD-NEA), told Sputnik in an interview that there is no urgent need to expand the IAEA mandate beyond its initial goals amid the increasing interest in nuclear power.
"The NEA doesn’t really involve itself in these security and nonproliferation issues, the IAEA does this very well. My general observation is that the rules work pretty well, the IAEA has done a good job over a long period of time providing a context for countries to understand what is going on in terms of any possible diversion of technology or materials for non-civilian purposes," Magwood said.
Sputnik discussed the September statement of US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley with the director-general, who said that the IAEA should be able to conduct inspections of civilian, as well as military sites in Iran to verify the country’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This comment was criticized by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, calling it attempts to misuse IAEA resources by turning them into tools of political pressure or a system of checking intelligence data. Russia further corroborated this stance when Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control Mikhail Uliyanov said that Moscow hoped there would be no experiments with the IAEA's mandate, as any changes in that issue would "destroy the agency."
According to the OECD-NEA chief, the IAEA's rules prove to be working well, even in cases when a country refuses to accept inspectors, because this scenario implies that a potential problem has been identified.
"And then the [UN] Security Council and others can take action. I think the rules are fine. It’s always a question of implementation, whether the Security Council has consensus to go forward and take action," Magwood underlined.
The monitoring body has already confirmed Iran's full compliance with the deal, despite the US decision not to certify it and accusations of Tehran not meeting the agreed upon requirements.
The IAEA has long paid special attention to the nuclear activities of countries like Iran and North Korea for fear of their potential use of nuclear energy for non-peaceful purposes. They have been monitoring Tehran's compliance with the JCPOA since January 2016, as it was a necessary condition for the easing of international sanctions in exchange for Iran scaling back its nuclear program and guaranteeing its peaceful nature. On October 21, Cornel Feruta, the IAEA chief coordinator, highlighted that the agency had taken a number of steps to check the situation at Iran's nuclear sites and the level of inspections was "unprecedented."
The organization is also monitoring the situation around North Korea's nuclear tests. However, the agency remains unable to carry out verification activities in the country and its knowledge of the North Korean nuclear program remains rather limited.
Paris Climate Deal
Director-General William D. Magwood has also discoursed upon the implementation of COP21 tough targets on gas emissions reduction.
"We’ve seen these very broad statements by many countries, they want to reduce CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions, meet these very aggressive targets that were identified in COP21 [2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference]. From my observation, we don’t see very many countries on the path to realize this, taking realistic steps necessary to reduce CO2 emissions as dramatically as COP21 requirements," Magwood said.
The agreement, which became effective in November 2016, does not include any enforcing mechanisms to ensure that countries attain specific goals in a set period of time. Each state is expected to design a plan for reducing emissions and to regularly report on the progress.
"A lot depends on whether countries around the world are really serious about meeting the objectives laid out by COP21. If they are really going to reduce CO2 emissions as dramatically as have been anticipated, they will have to look to nuclear power as a serious option and that could lead to new interest in nuclear power across the world," Magwood explained.
According to Magwood, many countries, whose energy networks rely heavily on nuclear power, have been attempting to replace nuclear plants with a combination of renewable energy and natural gas. However, the director-general explained that by doing so, emissions only increase.
The Paris Agreement (COP21) was signed by 197 parties and ratified by 169. However, the United States, a key actor in the deal, has withdrawn from the accord under Donald Trump's presidency, as he is a world most-famous climate skeptic.
Under the agreement, states submit comprehensive national climate action plans, setting emissions reduction targets to keep global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
The European Union was the first major economy to submit its intended contribution to the accord, setting a goal of reducing emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. China, one of the biggest polluters in the world, seeks to reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP (known as carbon intensity) by 60-65 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, pledged to decrease the level of emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.