UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- Developing countries on Monday called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy in areas such as nuclear power, health care, food security, the environment protection, saying that such a role of the nuclear watchdog is indispensable.
The appeal came as the UN General Assembly convened a meeting to review the first report by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano since he was named to head the nuclear agency in September 2009.
They expressed their conviction that access to nuclear energy should not be limited to developed countries, but should be available to developing nations as well.
Wang Min, China' deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the 192-member General Assembly that "the IAEA should heed the opinion of member states, especially that of developing countries, and take measures to satisfy their needs for technical assistance" in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia and Pakistan, while taking the floor at the General Assembly, expressed their belief in the central role of the IAEA in ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
"The progress in the betterment of people's lives due to the critical application of nuclear science and technology cannot be emphasized enough," said Hasan Kleib, the Indonesian permanent representative to the United Nations.
Eshagh Al-Habib, the Iranian deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said, "Nuclear energy today has found an important place in every human life. Today, atomic energy is widely used in agriculture, industry and medicine, in particular cancer treatment."
"The utilization of atomic energy and its advanced applications, especially in the field of renewable sources of energy, has increased on a broad scale," he said.
Nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy are the three pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which came into force in March 1970.
The NPT allows for and agrees upon the transfer of nuclear technology and materials to NPT signatory countries for the development of civilian nuclear energy programs in those countries, as long as they can demonstrate that their nuclear programs are not being used for the development of nuclear weapons.
The peaceful use of nuclear energy is an inalienable right of the NPT signatories.
"The IAEA's work in areas such as health care and nutrition, food security, the environment and water resource management is extremely important for many member states," Amano told the General Assembly.
"I made cancer in developing countries a high priority for my first year in office," he said. "Some 665 people in developing countries die of cancer every hour -- nearly three times as many as in developed countries."
"Around 70 percent of cancers in developing countries are diagnosed too late for life-saving treatment," Amano said. "In many low-income countries, there is not a single radiation therapy machine."
Since 1980, the IAEA has delivered more than 220 million U.S. dollars worth of cancer-related assistance to developing countries. "Our special focus on cancer this year has already started to bear fruits. I believe we have succeeded in raising awareness of the problems of cancer in developing countries to a higher political level," Amano said. "Our cooperation with the World Health Organization is going from strength to strength."