Topic A: Addressing the Safety and Feasibility of Nuclear Energy
As climate change continues to harm the environment and diplomats are increasingly pressed to find a politically and economically sound solution, nuclear energy has become an attractive option. Nevertheless, the fears associated with nuclear accidents pose an obstacle to increasing the global use of nuclear energy. While the IAEA has made progress in ensuring that nuclear energy is as safe as possible through its 2011 Action Plan on Nuclear Safety and multiple research publications, challenges with nuclear safety—and the looming fear of nuclear accidents such as the incident in Fukishima, Japan in 2011—have led to some countries phasing out their nuclear energy programs. This is especially concerning for the international community because nuclear energy offers an efficient form of environmentally friendly energy which is increasingly being viewed as the solution to global warming. For this reason, it is imperative that the IAEA continue to improve its work in nuclear safety. Where current guidelines are lacking or problematic, countries will have to pass new regulations to make nuclear energy programs safe for the countries seeking to acquire them.
Topic B: The Politics and the Management of Radioactive Waste
Radioactive waste poses the danger of causing large health problems if it is improperly managed, destroying the environment if it is not properly stored or recycled, and becoming a target for terrorists to release radioactive materials into the surrounding environment. Due to the large variety of radiation types and the wide variety of applications for radioactive material, there are many possible venues for managing radioactive waste. The IAEA classifies waste in many different categories: very short lived waste, very low level waste, low level waste, intermediate level waste, high level waste, and disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS). Each of these waste types can be disposed of in different ways, leading to different existing standards and practices for radioactive waste management across the international community.