ElBaradei: upgrading security a priority

1 January 2002

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Mohamed ElBaradei said upgrading nuclear security has to be one of the world's urgent priorities.

In a report to the IAEA's Board of Governors, ElBaradei said: "We need to urgently identify the most vulnerable locations and see they get the necessary security upgrades." Past efforts have focused mainly on diversion of nuclear material by states for non-peaceful purposes, without the same degree of focus on subnational groups — thus creating a gap between the risk of nuclear terrorism and existing response capabilities.

The price of the IAEA's proposed programme upgrades comes to about $30-50 million per year, an initial 10-15% increase in the agency's overall resources. In addition, ElBaradei said the IAEA's budget is currently underfunded by about $40 million due to a policy over many years of "zero real growth", and called on member states to provide the resources required to cope with the newly emerging threat.

These measures should be regarded as an insurance policy designed to help protect the whole world against an act of nuclear terrorism," said ElBaradei. "The premiums might seem steep, but they are worth the investment to protect ourselves."

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