The UK is to double its contribution to the IAEA´s Nuclear Security Fund to £4 million (€4,33 million) from £2 million (€2,125 million) given in 2006. The Fund is a voluntary funding mechanism for Member States established to support the IAEA´s activities in nuclear security aimed at preventing, detecting and responding to nuclear terrorism.
Speaking to an international audience of diplomats and scientists convened in London for a conference on nuclear energy and proliferation, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the move as part of the country´s Global Threat Reduction Programme (GTRP) aimed at improving nuclear security around the world.
"In addition to the £270 million the UK has spent on global threat reduction projects since 2002, and a further £36.5m we will spend each year for the foreseeable future, we are doubling our contribution to the IAEA´s Nuclear Security Fund," he said.
Mr. Brown also spoke about the future role of the IAEA envisaging a substantial expansion of its remit as part of the global effort to reshape the international architecture that deals with proliferation. The changes would be significant.
"A central role in the security of fissile material, a clear and proactive mandate to inspect - with enhanced powers of inspection to cover not just civil programmes, but also eventually military programmes, more support and training for an inspectorate that will cover both the extension of civil nuclear power and the monitoring of abuses of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and binding guarantees about the safeguards in place," he said.
This will require new funds from the international community. "If the International Atomic Energy Agency is to play this enlarged and reformed role, its safeguards regime would also need to be further strengthened."
"The IAEA very much appreciates the contributions from the UK and other donors. A strong commitment to safety and security is indeed an indispensable enabler for nuclear technology and international cooperation. The IAEA welcomes the Prime Minister´s statement of support for the Agency´s efforts to improve nuclear security," said Deputy Director General Tomihiro Taniguchi, Head of the IAEA´s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.
Nuclear Security Symposium
The IAEA is to host an International Symposium on Nuclear Security in Vienna from 30 March to 3 April 2009.
The event will provide policymakers and experts from more than 90 countries with the opportunity to determine how to best coordinate their efforts to improve nuclear security, manage radioactive sources, and combat nuclear terrorism.
Originally set up in 2002 for a period of three years, the IAEA´s Nuclear Security Fund was extended in September 2005 when the IAEA Board approved a new Nuclear Security Plan covering the period 2006-2009. Implementation of this plan has been almost wholly dependent on the donation of extra-budgetary contributions by Member States and others.
Safety programmes and the Safeguards Programme include activities that, whilst established to support safeguards and safety objectives, also support the objectives of the nuclear security programme. These programmes are largely funded by the IAEA Regular Budget and supported by other extra-budgetary contributions. Financial support from the Nuclear Security Fund is used to enhance or accelerate implementation of these activities for nuclear security purposes. The UK is the third largest contributor to the Fund after the USA and the European Union.