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UN nuclear body needs double budget by 2020: experts

by Staff Writers
Vienna (AFP) May 24, 2008
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needs to double its budget by 2020 if it is to do its job properly, according to the findings of an expert study released Friday.

The report deplored the fact that the United Nations's nuclear watchdog, which has to keep track of hundreds of tonnes of nuclear materials across hundreds of sites, had a budget roughly equal to that of the Vienna police.

The agency's regular budget for 2008 is 288 million euros (455 million dollars) according to its website.

The report, by a committee presided over by Mexico's former president Ernesto Zedillo, was submitted to the agency's board of governors.

It predicted the Vienna-based agency's workload would rise because of the current crisis in which non-nuclear fuel prices are soaring.

The report recommended doubling the current 283 million-euro budget by 2020.

It also suggested that member state should cooperate to ensure the supply of nuclear fuel between plants using internatinal banks of enriched uranium.

IAEA head Mohamed El Baradei, rejected Germany's recent bid to open up enriched uranium banks to several countries, as a "pretext for proliferation." The study said it was crucial for the IAEA to offer "technical assistance in developing countries for nuclear applications in health, agriculture, industry, environment, hydrology and biological and physical research."

It also recalled that nuclear technology could provide breakthroughs in current food and health crises, by creating sustainable crop varieties to beat harsh and changing climates, for instance.

Most of the committee also declared: "States must recommit to the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. They must take firmer steps to reinvigorate the grand bargain that was struck 40 years ago."

But three members of the committee argued that the question of nuclear disarmament was beyond the scope of the report.

The IAEA was set up by the UN in 1957. Its member states aim to provide safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

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Detained Pakistan nuclear scientist allowed to visit friends
Islamabad (AFP) May 21, 2008
Pakistan scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan on Wednesday enjoyed his first social outing in more than four years after being detained for leaking nuclear secrets, an official said.

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