UN watchdog calls for funds to monitor Iran nuclear freeze

AFP , Friday 24 Jan 2014

File Photo: IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano attends a news conference during a board of governors meeting at the United Nations headquarters, Vienna, September 10, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

The UN atomic watchdog said Friday it needed 5.5 million euros to monitor Iran's partial nuclear freeze, part of a landmark deal with world powers struck in November.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, called on member countries to help fund intensive checks over the next six months, the duration of the interim deal.

"The agency will need additional extra-budgetary contributions of some 5.5 millions euros ($7.5 million) for the six-month period," said Amano, according to the text of a speech delivered to a closed-door meeting of the IAEA's board of governors in Vienna.

"We will need to nearly double the staff resources devoted to verification in Iran. We will need to significantly increase the frequency of the verification activities which we are currently conducting. Our inspectors will need access to additional locations," he said.

So far the IAEA has had just two teams of two inspectors each that take turns on the ground in Iran.

The nuclear deal with Iran took effect on Monday, when the IAEA confirmed that Iran had stopped enriching uranium above five percent fissile purities at its Natanz and Fordo facilities.

The agency also said that the country was converting its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium -- a particular concern to the international community since it can be relatively easily be further purified to weapons-grade.

In return, Western countries are partially lifting their sanctions on Iran, which have been strangling its economy.

The deal is meant to be a first step toward a long-term agreement ending the 10-year standoff between Iran and the West over its nuclear programme.

The American delegate to the IAEA, Ambassador Joseph Macmanus, said the US would "provide a substantial contribution" for new monitoring activities.

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