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Appropriations Committee Approves Obama, Hagel, Durbin Request for Additional Support for IAEA

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$16 million increase would bolster IAEA's efforts to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands

U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee for agreeing to increase support for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by $16 million. In March, the senators called for an increase of $10 million for the IAEA to improve its ability to keep nuclear weapons out of the wrong hands by bolstering its analytic capability and its efforts to help countries to secure nuclear material. An increase in support for the IAEA is one of a broad set of measures called for in a bill introduced last year by Obama and Hagel to sustain U.S. leadership in a cooperative global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, and stop the spread of nuclear weapons and related technology.

"Keeping nuclear weapons and material out of the hands of terrorists and rogue states is a vital national security priority," said Senator Obama. "We need to build and sustain a truly global effort, including providing ample resources for the world's nuclear watchdog agency, to ensure that stockpiles of nuclear material are secure and to prevent additional countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. I applaud the Senate Appropriations Committee for its decision to provide additional support to the IAEA to help keep the world's most dangerous weapons from falling into the wrong hands."

"It is in every nation's interest to strengthen the IAEA's capability to promote nuclear nonproliferation. These additional funds will expand and accelerate the IAEA's efforts to assist countries with securing nuclear materials while helping upgrade technical analysis of samples obtained during inspections. Sustained engagement with our international partners on nuclear nonproliferation will be required to address one of the great challenges of the 21st century," said Senator Chuck Hagel.

"Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is vital to our national security and global stability," Durbin said. "These funds will ensure that the agency charged with checking the spread of nuclear weapons and weapon components, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has the tools and resources to continue this important work. It's not just in our nation's best interest that IAEA is able to fulfill its mission - it's a global imperative."

The text of the March 28, 2008 letter is below:

March 28, 2008

The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Chairman, Subcommittee on
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Judd Gregg
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman and Senator Gregg:

We respectfully request that you increase the FY2009 budget for Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) to provide an additional $10 million for voluntary contributions to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to improve its ability to keep nuclear weapons out of the wrong hands by bolstering its analytic capability and its efforts to help countries to secure nuclear material.

We know Al-Qaeda has made it a goal to acquire a nuclear weapon. If a sophisticated terrorist group obtained the right amount of plutonium or highly enriched uranium, it could potentially construct a crude nuclear device that could destroy the heart of any major city in the United States. While significant progress has been made in securing nuclear materials, there are still large stockpiles that remain vulnerable to theft. The IAEA plays an important role in keeping nuclear materials out of the wrong hands by providing international guidelines for improving security and assisting countries with implementation of these guidelines. Yet the IAEA's efforts in this area are chronically constrained by a small budget and an undersized staff. Increasing the voluntary contribution for nuclear security by $5 million in FY2009 would enable the IAEA to expand and accelerate its critical efforts to help secure nuclear materials.

The IAEA also plays a key role in international nonproliferation efforts by conducting inspections of nuclear facilities to ensure that nuclear material is not being diverted for military purposes. The other $5 million of the additional funding should be used to strengthen the capabilities of the IAEA's Safeguards Analytical Laboratory, which provides technical analysis of samples obtained during inspections. The laboratory's infrastructure is aging and the additional funding would play an important role in upgrading the laboratory so it can meet future requirements.

We believe that the additional funding for the IAEA represents a sound investment in enhancing our national security. The U.S. contribution to the IAEA was included in the highest rating category for effectiveness in a review of government programs conducted by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget due to substantial progress in achieving sound long-term goals.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

Chuck Hagel

Richard Durbin


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