The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an “independent international organization" under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, which seeks to limit the military use of nuclear energy and promote its use for peaceful purposes.

The organization was created in 1957, a year after 81 UN member states approved the IAEA Statute. The Statute outlines the three pillars of the Agency's work - “nuclear verification and security, safety and technology transfer.”

In 1961, the IAEA was initially based in Seibersdorf, Austria, but today is headquartered in Vienna.

The IAEA's relationship with the UN is regulated by special agreement. Under the terms of its Statute, the IAEA reports annually to the UN General Assembly and, when appropriate, to the Security Council regarding non-compliance by States with their safeguards obligations as well as on matters relating to international peace and security.”

The IAEA stepped up its safety efforts in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. At the time, the IAEA was headed by former Swedish Foreign Minister Hans Blix, who served as Director General from 1981 to 1997. Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, an Egyptian national, succeeded Blix and served until November 2009. The IAEA and ElBaradei were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

On July 2, 2009, Yukiya Amano, a Japanese national, was elected by the IAEA's Board of Governors to succeed ElBaradei, defeating Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa and Luis E. Echavarri of Spain. Amano took office on December 1, 2009.

In 2009, the IAEA, headed by ElBaradei, urged Israel, which became an IAEA member state on July 12, 1957, to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel, along with India and Pakistan, are the only countries with nuclear capabilities not to have signed the treaty, although it is only alleged that Israel has nuclear weapons. In August of 2010, Director-General Amano said he was concerned over Iran's plan to produce higher enriched uranium.