Think Tank Calls for U.N. Funding Boost for Iran Nuclear Inspections

An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector cuts links between Iranian uranium-enrichment centrifuges last month, as an interim atomic accord took effect between Tehran and six major governments. A Washington think tank this month urged lawmakers to boost U.S. funding for IAEA surveillance operations in Iran under the short-term deal.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
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Diane Barnes
Feb. 19, 2014, 9:55 a.m.

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.

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