Former Environmental Ministers call on UN to reform IAEA mandate and End the Nuclear Age

Press release - 11 April, 2006
In the run up to the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, former European Environmental Ministers (1) and Greenpeace are calling on Secretary-General Kofi Annan and International Atomic Energy Agency Director Mohamed ElBaradei to reform the Agency’s mandate and withdraw its promotion of nuclear technology, thereby eliminating the risk of another nuclear disaster of Chernobyl’s magnitude.

Construction of the sarcophagus (cover) over the destroyed Chernobyl reactor.

This demand highlights the contradictory roles the IAEA plays in theinternational arena. On one hand, the IAEA is tasked with stopping thespread of nuclear weapons and providing technical assistance to supportthe nuclear disarmament process. On the other, the IAEA's mandatepromotes the dangerous myth of peaceful nuclear power. The formerenvironmental ministers call on the UN to propose amendments to theIAEA statute at the forthcoming IAEA Board of Governors and GeneralConference in mid September.

"The risk of nuclear arms proliferation seems to be growing rapidly. Tobe able to function effectively, the IAEA should end its schizophrenicrole. It cannot effectively prevent nuclear arms proliferation when it,at the same time, promotes nuclear energy technology, which producesmaterial for bombs. Therefore the time has come to make end of thisdouble role of IAEA," said Mrs. Satu Hassi, Member of EuropeanParliament and former Finish Environmental Minister.

"The United Nations should dedicate this reform to the thousands ofpeople in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus whose lives were scarred foreveron the morning of the 26th of April 1986. The 20th anniversary of thebiggest nuclear disaster in history is an opportunity to remove thethreat of nuclear disasters from the planet, starting with reformingthe IAEA, said  Felicity Hill, Nuclear Political Advisor forGreenpeace.  "Atoms for Peace sounds like a nice ideal, but we allknow that the reality of atomic energy is anything but peaceful."

"The IAEA acts as a true promoter for the nuclear industry worldwide.By deliberately ignoring the interlink between civil and militarynukes, it contributes to the proliferation of fissile materials.Nations are also responsible in this dangerous interaction. Franceparticularly, must end its sales policy of nuclear materials andtechnologies to whomever is willing to pay. This trade jeopardizesworld peace…" concluded Mrs. Dominique Voynet, Senator and formerFrench Minister for the Environment. 

VVPR info: Satu Hassi, MED and former Minister for Environment of Finland, + 32 2 284 54 37Dominique Voynet, Senator and former Minister for Environment of France, +33 622 86 72 61Felicity Hill, Greenpeace International Nuclear Political Advisor, + 31 6 4616 2018Omer Elnaiem, Greenpeace International Communications + 31 6 4616 2020

Notes: (1) Signatories of the Ministers’ letter are the following former Environmental Ministers: 1. Former Ukrainian Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Sergiy Kurykin 2. Former Russian Minister of Environment, Mr. Victor Danilov-Danilian 3. Former Belarusian Minister of Environment, Mr. Anatolii Dorofeev 4. Former Italian Minister of Environment, Mr. Edo Ronchi 5. Former Danish Environment and Energy Minister, Mr. Svend Auken 6. Former Belgian Minister of Environment, Ms. Magda Alvoet 7. Former Czech Minister of Environment, Mr. Ivan Dejmal 8. Former Finish Minister of Environment and Development Cooperation, Ms. Satu Hassi 9. Former French Minister of Environment and Regional Planning, Ms. Dominique Voynet 10. Former British Minister of Environment, Mr. Michael Meacher MP(2) A copy of the letter from the Ministers can be found at A copy of the letter from Greenpeace can be found at