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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 49, August 2000

Editor's Introduction

IAEA Warns of Funding Crisis

On August 9, the funding crisis in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was highlighted in strong remarks to reporters by Director General Mohammed ElBaradei and John Ritch, US Ambassador to UN agencies in Vienna. Details were sketchy, but, according to reports, some planned activities have been cancelled, travel expenses cannot currently be paid to inspectors, and even the monthly payroll is in jeopardy. The Agency has an annual budget of around $300 million, 25% per cent of which is scheduled to be provided by the United States, a contribution not yet forthcoming due to the traditional US payment schedule. ElBaradei complained about the inflexibility of this schedule, noting: "If this perilous situation continues, it could undermine critical safeguard operations that verify the safe uses of nuclear energy… The US Congress and others will then have to ask themselves hard questions about the damaging impact on important strategic interests." Ritch drew a comparison between the sums involved and those being contemplated for US national missile defences: "It makes no sense to spend that amount of money on a future missile defence while neglecting simple, effective and much cheaper measures available right now to curtail the threat…"

According to Dan DuBray, a spokesperson for the House Appropriations Subcommittee dealing with State Department support for international organizations, the question of the timing of payments was a familiar consideration for the Agency, and one which it should be able to "coordinate and manage" its way around: "The US fiscal year is not aligned with the United Nations' fiscal year. That is hardly a new development…"

Report: Financial crisis threatens UN effort against nuclear proliferation,

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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