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UN watchdog makes pitch for money to fund Iran deal

UN watchdog makes pitch for money to fund Iran deal
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The international nuclear watchdog tasked with overseeing new limits on Iran’s nuclear power is telling its member countries that it needs an extra $10.5 million per year in order to carry out the agreement.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano told his board of governors of Tuesday that he was not planning any budget offsets to make up for that cost, meaning that all the new money will need to be contributed from member countries.

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“I call on all member states in a position to do so to contribute towards the financial needs of the agency related to implementation of the [interim Iran deal signed in 2013], as well as preparatory and implementation work under the [new comprehensive agreement],” Amano said in a statement to the board. 

“I know I can rely on the full support of the board and I also count on you to make the necessary funding available.”

Of that money, the IAEA “has immediate funding needs” of around $919,000 per month, which will support “the continuing costs of implementing monitoring and verification under the existing [interim deal],” Amano said.

Money that countries have previously committed to the agreement is set to run out in September.

News broke about Amano’s funding request on Monday, ahead of his Tuesday pitch to the board of governors. Over the 15-year lifetime of the agreement, the IAEA’s costs could add up to $157 million.

Under the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, signed by the U.S., Iran and five other countries, the IAEA is responsible for making sure that Tehran complies with its pledges to limit enrichment and other activities that could create a nuclear bomb.

Critics have recently pounced on the existence of what are being called “secret side deals” to the core agreement, which outline how the IAEA will inspect some sites for past nuclear bomb work, such as Iran’s Parchin military facility. 

A draft version of one agreement revealed by The Associated Press last week appeared to claim that the IAEA would hand over primary responsibility for inspections of the Parchin site to Iran. The IAEA would supervise Iranian inspectors, the report indicated.

On Tuesday, Amano reaffirmed his belief in the IAEA’s ability to carry out the terms of the agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“In short, we have the experience and expertise to conduct the verification and monitoring work set out in the JCPOA,” he said. “The combination of comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol, together with the verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA, represents a very robust verification mechanism in Iran.”