News Release

The 50th Anniversary of the IAEA


This Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

A former senior policy advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, Alvarez said today: “As the IAEA marks its 50th anniversary, it faces major challenges associated with global nuclear power growth. Nuclear reactors and the technologies that make nuclear fuel — such as uranium enrichment and reprocessing — are the key for nuclear weapons production. Plutonium produced in nuclear power plants has been used in nuclear weapons in the U.S. and other countries. The IAEA safeguard system does not provide timely warning and is not adequately funded. Currently, the IAEA has found that several nations cannot account for significant amounts of plutonium — enough to fuel several nuclear weapons. For instance Japan cannot account for 200 kilograms of plutonium — even though the IAEA estimates that only eight kilograms are enough to make a bomb. … Currently, there are about 250 metric tons of stored plutonium at reprocessing plants around the world — enough to fuel 30,000 nuclear weapons.”

Alvarez added: “Because it is dependant on voluntary contributions, funding for the IAEA is not secure. Its annual budget is $100 million — comparable to the payroll of a U.S. professional football team. A major expansion of nuclear power of 1,000 additional reactors (beyond the 438 plants now operating worldwide) proposed to address global warming, would require the establishing of a near-real-time monitoring system and would require a major financial commitment by nuclear exporting and importing countries, far beyond what has been provided to the IAEA.”
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Holum served as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Granoff is the president of the Global Security Institute and also senior advisor of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Arms Control and National Security as well as vice president of the NGO Committee on Disarmament at the U.N.

Holum said today: “Last month, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei told the IAEA’s board of directors that at current budget levels the agency cannot adequately carry out its mandate to ensure nuclear safety, prevent nuclear proliferation, and facilitate peaceful nuclear programs. … We rely on the IAEA to safeguard that material in facilities all over the world. Yet the IAEA has never spent in excess of 120 million U.S. dollars in any year to administer its worldwide nuclear materials inspection regime. At less than what the U.S. spends per day in Iraq, the safety of the world is dramatically compromised.”
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For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy at (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan at (541) 484-9167.