International Atomic Energy Agency

Dear Delegates,

Greetings, and welcome to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)!

My name is Ellen Li, and I am a sophomore at Harvard College studying Mathematics. I went to high school surrounded by the sunny beaches of Florida, but was born in a college town by the name of Urbana, Illinois. I have been interested in science and math for as long as I can remember. I was not involved in Model UN in high school (surprise!), but attended an information session in my early days at Harvard and was immediately intrigued. I served as an Assistant Director at both Harvard Model United Nations 2017 and Harvard National Model United Nations 2017, for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), respectively. (Fun Fact: Angela Guo, the current Under-Secretary General for ECOSOC, was my CSW Director!) At conference, I found that I really enjoyed the environment of productive debate, learning, and teamwork at the core of each committee. I then decided to pursue a larger role in committee as a Director, so here I am!

I’m beyond thrilled to be your Director for the IAEA, and am looking forward to four days of meaningful and constructive debate. In high school, I was particularly drawn to the intersection of environmental science and chemistry manifested in nuclear energy. In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the related earthquake, the drawbacks of nuclear energy were manifested in reality. Therefore, as a major STEM enthusiast, I’m excited to be able to incorporate my passion for nuclear energy into coming up with effective and comprehensive solutions to the various issues surrounding nuclear energy.

As a committee, we will delve into the intricacies of nuclear waste management, including its processing, storage, and disposal, and debate the role of governments in mediating between companies and citizens. We will also discuss nuclear disaster prevention and response, incorporating the delegation of responsibility to companies and governments in providing a quick and efficient response system for nuclear disasters as well as the implementation of a prevention system in current nuclear power plants. With these exciting ideas in mind, I strongly encourage you to immerse yourselves in this extremely relevant topic, and I look forward to hearing your insightful ideas in purposeful and effective debate at conference.

Ellen Li
Director, International Atomic Energy Agency
Harvard National Model United Nations 2018

Topic Area A: Nuclear Disaster Prevention and Response

Fukushima Daiichi. Chernobyl. Three Mile Island. Destructive, devastating, and disastrous. Nuclear energy is undoubtedly dangerous, and disasters have far-reaching consequences. In the United States, no new nuclear power plants have been built since the Three Mile Island disaster. However, for nuclear energy to remain a viable power source, strict protocols need to be implemented for both prevention as well as effective and immediate response to these disasters. The Fukushima disaster’s effect could have been mitigated if the plant had abided to basic safety protocols. Thus, discussing effective and enforceable methods of prevention, especially if it is as simple as checking safety protocols, is essential to the prevention of future nuclear disasters.

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that preventative measures are formulated, implemented, and enforced. The IAEA will thus develop such courses of action, keeping in mind the intersections of governments, their citizens, and companies. The committee will also discuss mediating between corporate and government responsibilities in both prevention and response of these disasters.

Topic Area B: Nuclear Waste Disposal

Some components of nuclear waste must be stored for thousands of years before they decay to a safe level. As such, nuclear waste disposal is one of the most prominent drawbacks of using nuclear energy, especially because nuclear fission (and not fusion) is the more widely used method in nuclear power plants across the globe. The controversy surrounding methods and location of storage sites is compounded by various political issues as well as barriers to the research and development of these large-scale facilities. Currently, most waste is stored on site at the nuclear power plant, and countries have begun to consider underground burial as a method of disposal. However, there have been instances of container leakage, which could pose huge problems for surrounding life.

For nuclear energy to be a more sustainable and relevant energy source in the future, it is essential to continue and expand research into alternative methods of not only waste disposal but also production (i.e. nuclear fusion). Accordingly, the IAEA will be tasked with mediating between companies and the preferences of governments and their citizens to minimize threats to ecosystems and push nuclear energy to maximum sustainability.