Under-funded IAEA struggling to cope, say experts

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Washington, Nov.29 (ANI): A former deputy director of the IAEA, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, has expressed concern over the poor amount of funds available to the organisation, and warned that if this issue is not addressed, a proliferation disaster is on the cards.

Fox News quoted Olli Heinonen, as saying that the underfunded agency is facing the same predicament as some financial institutions did in 2008.

"Everyone thought the banking system was alright. We were pouring our money and investments and it didn't work. Here is the same. So one day there might be a proliferator we never thought was there. We are taken off guard. And it is too late," Heinonen said.

Fox News quoted nuclear proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, as saying: "I think the IAEA is going to have to inspect additional nuclear facilities that are likely to come on line in the Middle East, partly in reaction to Iran, because countries don't want to fall too far behind technologically their rivals in Persia."

Fitzpatrick points out that there will also be much expansion in China, India and other places in Asia.

Some estimate the world's nuclear generating capacity will increase 25 percent by 2030. And the amount of material it has to safeguard is up by 50 percent.

The nuclear agency's budget has grown around two percent in the last two years, less than the 10 percent it asked for.

Fitzpatrick said, "It's the eyes and ears of the international community - and it's got the best set of eyes and ears", but it does have budgetary problems that make its eyesight not 20/20."

Funding comes from member states, with the U.S. kicking in one quarter of the total.

President Obama wants to double the budget over the next four years.

The Europeans think that is unnecessary in these tough economic times. (ANI)

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