IAEA’s Budget Working Group Fulfills a Promise – But Little Else

SUBJECT     IAEA’s Budget Working Group Fulfills a Promise – But Little
DATE     2010-02-01 00:00:00



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: IAEA’s Budget Working Group Fulfills a Promise – But Little

REFS: A) 09 STATE 119320 B) 09 UNVIE 541 C) UNVIE 4

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Budget Working Group (BWG) January 13-15 allowed a refreshingly non-polemical discussion on IAEA programs, but fell short of Geneva Group hopes to identify programs for emphasis or de-emphasis in the IAEA’s 2011 budget. In contrast to Geneva Group readiness, the G-77 did not meet until after the BWG had already started, and therefore managed to produce nothing more than the same statement (nearly word-for-word) the Group had issued during last year’s budget negotiations over the 2010 level. As a result, little was accomplished, and Finnish BWG Chair Ambassador Rasi polished off the proceedings in two-and-a-half days (half the allotted time). Disappointed as we were at the lack of substance, the process was at least educational (more so, than, say, the Future of the Agency discussions). We also witnessed some significant softening in the hard-line positions of some of the “budget hawks” (Canada and France) and a much more open UK. Most importantly, the BWG represented the culmination of last year’s budget deal, in which Geneva Group Members agreed to discuss Safeguards Financing and other topics of interest to the G-77 in exchange for G-77 support for a significant budget increase in 2010. Viewed in this light, the BWG was small pain for great gain. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Under the efficient chairmanship of Finnish Ambassador Marjatta Rasi, the Budget Working Group (BWG) met January 13 – 15 to discuss programmatic priorities for the 2011 budget. Sluggish from the holidays and ill-prepared for in-depth discussions, outgoing G-77 chair Argentina delivered a rote group statement (but not until the third day of the proceedings) and otherwise took a back seat in the discussion. Even Egypt and Pakistan seemed caught unawares. Brazil was silent. Only Iranian Ambassador Soltanieh remained energized throughout, but his politically-motivated ramblings prompted a private scolding from Rasi.

3. (SBU) Fortunately for the U.S., the BWG revealed a softening of positions among major contributors and a greater willingness to think creatively about financing the Agency. France and Canada in particular expressed solid support for upgrades in the Safeguards Analytical Laboratory. The UK, normally a vocal budget hawk, was conspicuously silent (in part, a UK delegate admitted privately, because of the low level of contention). Spain, Italy, Mexico, Australia and Germany – all staunch budget hawks during last year’s negotiations – spoke little or confined their comments to programmatic priorities. At one point Canada, while expressing appreciation for the informational value of the process, pointed out
bluntly that nobody had yet said, “we should sunset this or that.” SWITZERLAND, another budget hawk, complained on the sidelines of the BWG that nothing had really changed in the budget process, and that discussions over the 2011 level would wind up the same as for 2010 – a fight over the overall level.

4. (SBU) The Secretariat will release an update of the 2011 draft budget proposal in late February, followed by an informal meeting of the Program and Budget Committee in early March, near or alongside the March 1 – 5 meeting of the Board of Governors. The Finns will hold informal consultations with Member States in March regarding the overall 2011 levels, followed by a formal meeting of the Program and Budget Committee on May 3.

5. (SBU) The Finns will recommend the continuation of the BWG when negotiations over the 2012-2013 biennium begin. They will also recommend that 2012-2013 negotiations begin in the fall (November) in order to influence the Secretariat’s proposal and bring greater transparency to the process (this is several months earlier than in the past, when budget negotiations did not begin until February). Finally, the Finns would like to confine the mandate of the BWG to priorities within each MP, rather than branching into philosophical discussions about the relative value of each of the Agency’s “pillars” (safety, verification, science) and the resources they should command. Instead, these philosophical questions should be ironed out in the Medium Term Strategy. Ambassador Rasi reportedly enjoyed her stint at the podium as BWG chair, and may even consent to continue chairing the MTS process.

6. (SBU) NOTE: BWG has become shorthand for open-ended, informal budget negotiations. The same process took place last year under the chairmanship of Ambassador Feruta. In other words, budget negotiations, no matter what their name, follow a similar format. END NOTE.

7. (SBU) According to the head of the IAEA’s program and budget office, Carlo Reitano, there have been no signs that Director General Amano intends any major overhaul of the 2011 budget proposal, submitted by Amano’s predecessor ElBaradei. But that proposal does yield an 11 percent nominal increase unless substantial voluntary funding can be mobilized for the Safeguards Analytical Laboratory (SAL). The bulk of the proposed 2011 increase is for capital investment, not for ongoing operations. For example, other than a healthy injection to MP 3 for Nuclear Security, no Major Program would receive more than a percentage point or two over the 2010 level. Instead, the 2011 proposal focuses on raising 30 Million Euros for major capital investment projects, principal among them SAL modernization and the Agency-wide Information System for Program Support (AIPS).

8. (SBU) The BWG was organized by a discussion of each of the IAEA’s six Major Programs, with Deputy Directors General or their colleagues kicking off discussion with a short presentation about how they had implemented the 2010 increase and where they needed additional resources (rarely did the presenters suggest programs to phase out). Coached by the Finns in advance, each presentation was brief and focused. Rasi then turned over discussion to Member States, who frequently asked informational questions about the programs and subprograms within each Major Program. (Iranian Ambassador Soltanieh was an exception, dominating the floor with anecdotes and accusations reminiscent of his recent performance during “Future of the Agency” discussions.)

9. (SBU) On Major Program 1, Nuclear Energy DDG Sokolov, explained how the emphasis over the past five years had switched to the operation of facilities and innovative techniques. Egypt and Russia complained that MP 1 was proportionally disadvantaged in the 2010 budget increase, despite its work on popular initiatives such as INPRO (Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles) and collaboration on technical cooperation projects. The U.S. highlighted the Agency’s role in technology transfer (as opposed to development) and offered broad support for MP 1 that nonetheless should include a critical look at programs that could be retired.

10. (SBU) On Major Program 2, Nuclear Sciences and Applications, DDG Burkart gave the day’s most polished presentation that reflected Director General Amano’s philosophy of sound management and focused priorities. He laid out his main objectives for 2011: fighting cancer, understanding and responding to climate change, increasing
efficient delivery of programs through partnerships, enhancing impact and delivery by concentrating efforts on fewer areas. Burkart even noted where MP 2 could do less (on pesticide measurements) and, in response to a question from the U.S., suggested that Member States review his chapter in the Budget Blue Book (GC(53)/5, pages 119-162) to see where completed and phased-out activities are listed (including dam safety). In part due to Burkart’s robust performance, Member States had little to critique on MP 2.

11. (SBU) Things did not go so well for DDG Taniguchi on Major Program 3, Nuclear Safety and Security. In response to a question from Canada, Taniguchi was forced to defend the Incident and Emergency Center, explaining that emergency response was a national responsibility but that the IAEA had a role in supporting Member State efforts to build that capacity. Taniguchi was also forced to fend off an attack by Iran on the statutory relevance of Nuclear Security and the logic of placing it in the same department as Safety. Taniguchi patiently explained that more and more developed countries were co-locating safety and security under the same regulatory agency, because of the obvious synergies. Iran continued to worry that the Agency’s work on nuclear security would lead an intrusion into national security issues and warned the Secretariat against ignoring the G-77 position on Nuclear Security.

12. (SBU) Safeguards Operations A Division Director Marco Marzo did a creditable job of presenting Major Program 4, Safeguards, in the absence of DDG Heinonen. Most positively, there was considerable rhetorical support among Geneva Group members for upgrades in the Safeguards Analytical Laboratory. Secretariat staff from Safeguards and the budget office fumbled somewhat their pitch for SAL, however, by stating contradictory figures on SAL funding needs in 2011. Russia aired the contradiction for anyone who missed it, embarrassing some members of the Secretariat. The U.S. intervention noted that although the establishment of the Major Capital Investment Fund in 2010 was a significant accomplishment, it was, as yet, an unfunded “empty shell” that could not yet address the needs of SAL and AIPS. The U.S. asked the Secretariat to be more forthcoming about SAL needs in 2011 to keep the modernization on track. Regarding integrated safeguards, the U.S. asked how the upfront costs would diminish over time, and when Member States might
see the results of economizing efforts.

———– ———————- ————
13. (SBU) DDG Waller on Major Program 5, Management, parried questions about procurement reform and Program Support Costs. Waller took care to take special note of the packed governance agenda in 2010, including budget negotiations and the Medium Term Strategy. DDG Cetto on Major Program 6, Management of Technical Cooperation, took several spears during her difficult session. Her assertion that the budget increases for 2010 barely covered the human resources requirements to manage the growing Technical Cooperation program unleashed a vigorous series of interventions from Canada regarding the large overhead of MP 6 relative to the monies and projects it disbursed. In a tacit rejection of G-77
claims that technical cooperation is undervalued at the IAEA, Canada asked incisive questions about resource flows from other MPs that in fact support the implementation of technical cooperation. In response to a debate over performance indicators, the U.S. asked how the Secretariat would report on the number of projects in the current cycle that had been completed on time and have met their objectives. Pakistan and others queried Cetto for information on a move by the Secretariat to establish regional offices, the tone of which was generally critical.

14. (SBU) Following the examination of Major Programs, the BWG delved into other topics as instructed in the budget deal approved by the last General Conference. These topics included capital investment, safeguards financing (i.e., shielding), incentive schemes for on-time payment of contributions, the methodology for price adjustments, and other topics. Again, the G-77’s failure to prepare for the BWG resulted in little more than perfunctory comments. One flare-up occurred when Egypt eloquently linked increasing safeguards costs to the G-77 perception that technical cooperation was falling behind. Pakistan clumsily proposed to freeze the process of de-shielding for six years. The U.S. weighed in strongly regarding NPT safeguards, their critical underpinning of the non-proliferation regime that protects all Member States, and the insistence that everyone pay their fair share. In a soft-spoken threat, Egypt mused that the original de-shielding arrangement must have occurred against the backdrop of a successful NPT Review Conference.

15. (SBU) COMMENT: The BWG absorbed much preparation by both UNVIE and Washington, work which did not immediately bear fruit during the meetings. The UK delegation reminded us, however, that in a basic sense the BWG was a victory: It fulfilled the budget deal worked out in 2009, in which the G-77 had insisted on a discussion of safeguards financing (de-shielding) in exchange for the 2010 increase. The BWG paid a debt, even if its remaining value was little more than educational.

16. (SBU) Looking forward to March negotiations over the general 2011 level, Mission notes that the draft proposal is very much in line with U.S. priorities. Nuclear Security, SAL and AIPS represent top U.S. priorities, to the point where the budget proposal appears practically tailor-made to meet U.S. goals. That said, the proposal will not survive in its current form. If early voluntary

commitments do not sufficiently reduce the SAL-related capital investment request in the budget update, the overall proposal will come under attack by the European budget hawks for its gross size (11 percent) and by the G-77 for its operational plus-up for Nuclear Security. All the same, the 2011 proposal cleaves nicely to U.S. priorities in all the major areas and merits our support as a basis for opening negotiations once we see how DG Amano and his team adjust the levels inherited from his predecessor. END COMMENT.

17. (U) A detailed summary of statements from the BWG are available from Steven Adams (adamsjs@state.gov).



DE RUEHUNV #0026/01 0321445
P 011445Z FEB 10


ADDED     2011-09-04 03:35:54
STAMP     2011-09-04 03:35:54
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