A Washington think tank is pressing Senate appropriators to boost funds for heightened U.N. surveillance of Iran's disputed nuclear program.
Increasing U.S. funding for the International Atomic Energy Agency in fiscal 2015 would help the agency to "ensure full and robust international inspections in order to maintain pressure on Iran," the Bipartisan Policy Center's foreign policy director said this month in a letter to two key Senate Appropriations Committee lawmakers.
Iran agreed to restrict certain nuclear activities and accept heightened monitoring of its atomic efforts under an agreement it reached in November with the United States and five other countries. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano last month said his agency would need roughly $7.6 million in "extrabudgetary contributions" to fund intensified oversight for the deal's initial half-year duration.
Blaise Misztal, acting head of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Foreign Policy Project, urged Congress to help answer the call.
"Increased access to nuclear facilities will demand more resources from the IAEA's nuclear verification budget. We believe IAEA member states, such as the United States, should adjust their annual contributions to reflect this increased workload," Misztal said in a Feb. 10 letter to Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee, and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the panel's ranking member.
Misztal did not specify how much additional U.S. funding his organization is seeking. Washington provided more than 40 percent of the agency's budget for 2014, the group said in a December fact sheet.
The six-month interim accord that took effect in January is intended to facilitate the development of a longer-term plan to address international worries that Iran could tap its civilian atomic activities to produce nuclear arms. In exchange for limiting its atomic efforts under a potential comprehensive nuclear accord, Tehran is seeking sanctions relief from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany.
Last month, the United States reportedly joined the other "P-5+1" powers and a number of other governments in agreeing to help underwrite the additional nuclear inspections mandated under the interim atomic accord.