Terry Jeffrey

State also told Congress in a 2007 report that technology transferred to Iran by the U.S.-funded TC for the Bushehr project would not have been transferred directly to Iran from the United States or its allies because of export controls that are designed to stop nuclear-weapons proliferation.

My own review of TC's annual reports -- available on the IAEA website -- indicates that TC has been helping the Iranians with development of the Bushehr reactor since at least 1995. TC's 1995 annual report says: "As a consequence of Iran's decision to revive the Bushehr NPP (nuclear power plant) with the WWER-1000 technology, technical assistance was requested on safety issues such as seismic site studies, plant safety features, quality assurance (QA) and project organization. Outside experts prepared comprehensive reports and recommendations that were sent to Iran for review. A sizeable manpower development program on nuclear power safety and applications was initiated in support of the above activities."

TC's 2000 annual report said TC was training Iranians in running nuclear power plants: "Implementation of projects relating to the safety of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) and the strengthening role of the National Regulatory Authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran made progress during the year. The highlights included special training courses on quality assurance; establishment of a program and a conceptual document on a personnel training system; the standards and procedures at the operating organization level; and training workshops for the implementation of configuration management."

TC's 2004 annual report said it had sent 99 "international experts" to Iran that year and had also trained 24 Iranian fellows and scientific visitors. "Each year, about 1,600 individuals around the world are granted fellowships by the TC program, allowing them to pursue specialized nuclear studies at universities, institutes and other facilities outside their home countries," explained the GAO's report.

The TC eventually denied assistance to Iran for development of its heavy-water reactor at Arak, but only after the United States complained about the proposed aid. "Iran asserted that the reactor was intended for the production of medical isotopes, and the proposal was approved for funding by IAEA's Secretariat," said the GAO. "However, as a result of objections by the United States and other nations, the (IAEA's) Board of Governors ultimately did not approve this proposal."

After investigating TC, the GAO said it was considering recommending that Congress require State to cut funding to the organization in an amount proportional to the funding TC provides state sponsors of terror, including Iran.

In a written response to GAO, State adamantly opposed the suggestion. All aid to TC "is fungible," said State, "therefore, this proposed recommendation would not necessarily stop IAEA TC projects in the targeted countries but instead diminish overall TCF (Technical Cooperation Fund) funding. By targeting the entire TCF, the U.S will anger states in the developing world."

We will now see whether President Obama and Congress accept the State Department's reasoning and continue to provide U.S. tax dollars to an international agency that funded Iran's nuclear program.

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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