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– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
GAO Studies IAEA Nuclear Security Funds
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Daniel Horner

Efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to help countries improve nuclear security are hampered by a heavy reliance on so-called extra-budgetary contributions from member states, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released June 17.

Relying on the extra-budgetary funds makes planning difficult for the IAEA, because the funding level fluctuates from year to year, the GAO said. IAEA member states provide such funds on top of their assessed contribution to the agency.

Another problem with the extra-budgetary funds is that the contributing countries often direct them to specific projects, the report said. The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, recommended that the State Department “evaluate the nuclear security program’s long-term resource needs and assess whether the [IAEA’s] heavy reliance on extra-budgetary contributions is sufficient to plan and meet those needs.” In its response, published in the GAO report, the State Department disagreed. It acknowledged that “[b]y its nature,” extra-budgetary funding is “voluntary, unpredictable, and often comes with conditions,” but said that “given the limited regular budget for nuclear security, the IAEA will continue to rely heavily” on the extra-budgetary funds.

The report also covers the IAEA’s work to strengthen its safeguards program and establish a nuclear fuel bank.