If everything is timing, now was not the right time for the International Atomic Energy Agency to start a fundraising effort:
The International Atomic Energy Agency chief urged 145 member states on Monday to come to grips with an IAEA funding crisis undermining its ability to prevent nuclear proliferation threats.
Opening the IAEA's annual assembly, Mohamed ElBaradei called for urgent steps to increase funding of the U.N. watchdog, modernise equipment and enhance its legal authority to verify the nature of nuclear programmes in suspect countries.
In case you think ElBaradei might be unwilling to raise the rhetoric to alarming levels:
"It would be a tragedy of epic proportions if we fail to act (for lack of resources) until after a nuclear conflagration, accident or terrorist attack that could have been prevented."
Yes, that certainly would be a tragedy, wouldn't it? While we don't want to suggest even for an instant that the IAEA shouldn't be funded to a reasonable level - the U.N. put it charge of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty - we suspect it might be pushing apocalypse in the face of a uncomfortable financial environment. (And remember, ElBaradei was talking to the membership, not you and me. Putting statements like that out to the public would qualify as fantastically inflammatory, nuclear conflagration or not.)
He urged IAEA members to accept the recommendation of an independent commission for an 80 million euro injection to modernise IAEA labs and emergency response abilities and a gradual doubling of the budget by 2020.
The IAEA's budget now is about 340 million euros, which ElBaradei has called penny-pinching.
We guess 340 million euros (or 420 million euros if you merge the two amounts given) is not so much spread among 145 member nations, though it'll be interesting to see if there's some pushback and what form it might take. We found some stories about individual conflicts between members - see here, for example - but nothing suggesting a ruction with the entity or ElBaradei.
How the assembly goes should indicate how the IAEA proceeds - and who pledges some funds or comes up with reasons not to - so let's wait and see.
Mohamed ElBaradei - that's the IAEA logo behind him. He and the organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for ratcheting down nuclear tensions in North Korea and Iran. There might have been an anti-U.S. bias here, as the Bush administration did not want ElBaradei to continue in another term after the latter "failed" to contain Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Someone ended up a little egg-faced and it wasn't ElBaradei.