Letter to Congress on Importance of Funding the IAEA

Withholding Funding from the IAEA is Ill-Advised and Dangerous

(PDF Version)

Dear Members of Congress,

As individuals who have dedicated our professional lives to national security and nuclear nonproliferation, we strongly urge that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) receive full funding to monitor Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The United States, its international negotiating partners, and Iran continue to move towards full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which will restrict and monitor Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for relief from economic sanctions related to its nuclear program. The nuclear watchdog organization, the IAEA, is responsible for verifying that Iran is in compliance with the agreement through an unprecedented system of intrusive inspections and safeguards.

IAEA monitoring is essential for deterring and detecting illicit nuclear behavior by Iran; without adequate funding, the international community cannot responsibly verify that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful and in-line with its commitments. According to Director General Yukiya Amano, the IAEA requires an additional $10.6 million per year to undertake this task. This additional funding will pay for new inspectors, the installation and maintenance of safeguard and verification technology, and other monitoring activities that exceed the surveillance normally conducted by the IAEA.

Unfortunately, some key members of Congress advocate blocking any U.S. contribution to these additional funds. On December 3, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) introduced House Resolution 553, supported by several House committee chairs, urging that additional funding be blocked unless the IAEA releases confidential documents between it and Iran.

Release of these documents would violate the confidentiality of the IAEA, which has been universally regarded as necessary to ensure the cooperation of countries with inspection and verification agreements. Though the resolution is not legally binding, it sets a dangerous precedent for future legislation.

It is difficult to understand why Members of Congress would block verification of Iran’s nuclear activities. Such a self-defeating move would only increase the potential for Iran to hide violations of the agreement by reducing the likelihood of detection.

We strongly urge Congress to ensure that the IAEA receives full funding to effectively monitor Iran’s implementation of and compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Doing so will make the United States, its allies, and the world safer.


Hans Blix
Director General Emeritus, IAEA 

Maj. General Roger R. Blunt, USA (Ret.)

Amb. Kenneth C.Brill (ret)
Former ambassador to the IAEA
Founding Director of the U.S. National Counterproliferation Center

Matthew Bunn
Professor, Managing the Atom Project
Belfer Center, Harvard University

Brig. Gen. Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.)

Charles D. Ferguson, Ph.D.
President, Federation of American Scientists
Former Naval Nuclear Officer

Trevor Findlay
Associate, Managing the Atom Project
Belfer Center, Harvard University

Brig. Gen. Evelyn “Pat” Foote, USA (Ret.)

Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, USA (Ret.)
Chairman Emeritus, Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation

Richard L. Garwin
Contributor to design and test of nuclear weapons
IBM Fellow Emeritus

Amb. Thomas Graham Jr.  (ret.)
Chairman, Lightbridge Corp.

Lt. Gen. Arlen D. Jameson. USAF (Ret.)

Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, USA (Ret.), Ph.D
Professor Emeritus, National Defense University

David Kay
Former IAEA Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq (after first Gulf War)

Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy, USA (Ret.)

Daryl G. Kimball
Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Maj. Gen. Frederick H. Lawson, USA (Ret.)

Edward P. Levine, Ph.D.
Retired senior professional staff member
Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Jeffrey Lewis
Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program
Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Martin Mallin
Executive Director, Managing the Atom Project,
Belfer Center, Harvard University

Laura Rockwood
Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
Former Section Head, IAEA

Andrew K. Semmel
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Policy

Lt. Gen. James M. Thompson, USA (Ret.)
Vice Chair, Boise, ID Committee on Foreign Relations

Jim Walsh, Ph.D.
Security Studies Program, MIT

Honorable Andy Weber
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs

(Affiliation for identification purposes only)