Several states said they would back the U.N. atomic agency on Thursday after it asked for 4.6 million euros ($5.7 million) as soon as possible to pay for its monitoring of an extended nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
The verbal support at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) underlined the political importance of efforts to end a 12-year dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, also for countries not directly involved in the diplomacy.
Norway pledged 1 million euros – more than a fifth of the total – and the Netherlands promised 100,000 euros, diplomats who attended the closed-door session said.
Britain said it would contribute both financially and through expert training. Others also said they would contribute.
Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia failed last month to meet a self-imposed deadline to resolve the nuclear standoff, giving themselves seven more months for negotiations.
As a result, an interim deal reached in late 2013 will remain in force. IAEA inspectors are checking that Iran lives up to its commitments under that accord to halt its most sensitive nuclear work in exchange for some easing of sanctions.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the IAEA’s 35-nation governing board about the need for voluntary budget contributions.
“I invite member states which are in a position to do so to make the necessary funding available as soon as possible in order to ensure smooth continuation of our activities,” he said.
The European Union said it was “prepared to consider sympathetically the resource needs” of the IAEA.
Iran denies Western allegations it has been seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability. But its refusal to scale back uranium enrichment has drawn international sanctions.
Iran’s IAEA envoy, Reza Najafi, said negotiations on a final agreement had made good progress and a “lasting solution is closer than ever.”
IAEA inspectors visit Iran’s enrichment facilities of Natanz and Fordow daily, compared to about once a week before. It has also procured specialized equipment for its analytical work.
Saying the IAEA’s workload had greatly increased, Amano added that many staff “working on this matter will give up their Christmas and New Year holidays this year.”
The agreement was due to run for six months from January but first extended in July and again in November. The IAEA asked in January and July for funds totaling 6.5 million euros for its extra Iran work, money which diplomats said it also received.