National Security

Published — March 17, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

U.S. may be providing nuclear assistance to nations with terror links

Introduction

The United States provides $20 million a year to help finance the International Atomic Energy Agency, which promotes peaceful use of nuclear energy. But some IAEA funds have gone to countries that could potentially use nuclear technology for weapons, Congress’ watchdog warns.

Neither the State Department nor IAEA have sought to limit aid to terror-linked nations such as Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria, or countries which are not party to the non-proliferation treaty, such as India, Israel, and Pakistan.

“State officials told us that the United States did not systematically try to limit TC projects in Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria—which the department designated as sponsors of terrorism,” the report said. “These four countries received more than $55 million in TC assistance from 1997 through 2007.

Nuclear equipment and technology, even if geared towards peaceful purposes, can also contribute to the development of nuclear weapons.

The GAO has repeatedly suggested the State Department withhold the U.S. contribution to IAEA that would go to countries of concern.

“The United States has applied several types of sanctions limiting foreign assistance and trade to states it has designated as sponsors of terrorism and to other countries. To avoid the appearance of an inconsistent approach and to foster greater cohesion in U.S. policy toward such nations, we believe that it is fair for Congress to consider requiring State to withhold a share of the U.S. contribution,” the GAO said.

The IAEA provides minimal information on project proposals, usually just project titles, which hinders efforts by the Department of Energy to assess the risk of proliferation in countries requesting assistance.

FAST FACT: A number of IAEA member nations failed to pay their share of support to the agency, despite accepting assistance. The United States provides 25 percent, $19.8 million, to the IAEA.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities.

ENVIRONMENT

  • The Environmental Protection Agency awarded $6.1 million for water projects in the District of Columbia, but the funds were found to be unnecessary. The agency has requested repayment, but a construction and technical dispute with the recipient is delaying the process. (EPA Inspector General)

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