Statistic of the day

During the past two decades, the quantity of weapons-usable nuclear material safeguarded by the [International Atomic Energy Agency] has increased tenfold without a corresponding growth in funding.

That’s from a great article by Richard Weitz at World Politics Review, on the challenges facing incoming IAEA director Yukiya Amano.

The thrust of the piece — that Amano is facing some really difficult challenges — underscores a point that we didn’t really make in our coverage of the contentious IAEA elections: that whoever its director is, be (s)he from the global North or South, the IAEA’s success will depend mostly on the countries that make up its members — and, of course, donors.

Point is, IAEA countries will have to pony up.  The Obama Administration has requested a twofold increase in funding from the U.S., which is good, so long as it follows through.  It also makes current director Mohamed El Baradei’s request for an 11% budget increase seem eminently reasonable.

On the operational side, the countries that aren’t meeting their commitments to the agency — or are flouting them — need to either fall in line, or face the possibility that the IAEA be strengthened enough to be able to levy automatic sanctions on rule-breakers, which is an option that Weitz raises in his piece.

Let’s hope Amano is getting ready for his tenure to begin in November, but, even more so, let’s hope that every country — from the nuclear powers to the nuclear longshots — will support him more than they have his predecessor.