S. Korea to chair IAEA for first time

한겨레 입력 2021. 9. 28. 17:46 수정 2021. 9. 29. 10:36
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This is the first time the country has been elected to chair the IAEA board of governors since it joined the nuclear watchdog
South Korean Ambassador to Austria Shin Chae-hyun

Korea was elected chair of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday, a first since the nation joined the body 64 years ago.

In a press release the same day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "Korea was unanimously elected chair of the IAEA Board of Governors on Sept. 27 at the board meeting in Vienna, Austria." With this, the country will lead the board for the first time since joining the organization in 1957, with its one-year term set to expire in September next year.

Serving in the position will be Shin Chae-hyun, the South Korean ambassador to Austria and the UN international organizations in Vienna.

Eight regional groups take turns heading the IAEA board, with this year’s rotation going to the Far East group comprising Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Mongolia and the Philippines. If a consensus on the chair is reached within a group in a given year, the board grants approval after the IAEA general meeting. Korea replaces Canada as chair.

Among Far East group member states, Japan has served as IAEA chair six times and Vietnam once. On this, a ministry official told reporters, "Our country's growing influence and the undesirability of Japan's de facto monopoly [within the group] were considered," adding, "Our diplomatic efforts led to Japan actively supporting the bid and Far East group members giving their consent."

The official added that the IAEA apparently considered Japanese dominance in the organization over the years given Tokyo's contributions to and capacity in the nuclear power field.

As the world's top organization on nuclear issues and with 35 member countries on its board, the IAEA discusses, deliberates and makes recommendations on major issues such as the verification and inspection of nuclear facilities — especially those in North Korea and Iran — nuclear power safety, nuclear security, and technological applications.

The board and its committees hold five meetings per year. Prior to each meeting, the secretariat for each major agenda, regional groups, and groups with similar stances are responsible for coordinating the stances of member states through consultations.

The ministry said, "[Korea] is considered to have won the chair of the IAEA Board of Governors given its status as a model country in non-proliferation for the peaceful use of nuclear power, and our active contributions to the organization's activities have been reflected."

They continued, saying that Korea would use this opportunity to “expand our involvement and contribution to the IAEA's core issues and further solidify global support for the North Korean nuclear issue and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

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