This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) to H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act. The amendment would have withheld almost $4.5 million authorized by the bill for the U.S. contribution to the International Atomic Energy Agency for non-nuclear proliferation efforts. She said she selected this figure because it equals the “amount that the Agency spent on nuclear assistance to Iran, Syria, Cuba and Sudan in the year 2007, the most recent fiscal year for which figures are available.”
In arguing on behalf of her amendment, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen cited a recent Government Accountability Office report, which she characterized as “scathing”, that described “the State Department's near total lack of oversight regarding the nuclear assistance that the IAEA provides to member states, especially to Iran, Syria, Cuba and Sudan. The GAO report noted that from 1997 to the year 2007, the International Atomic Energy Agency's Technical Cooperation Program provided over $55 million to these state sponsors of terrorism, supposedly for “peaceful purposes.”
Ros-Lehtinen argued that “(W)e and our allies must use the means at our disposal to prevent these and other rogue regimes from realizing their deadly ambitions. We have an opportunity today to cut off an important source of assistance to the nuclear programs of Iran, Syria and other regimes, the help provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the very organization charged with preventing nuclear proliferation.” She said that “the bill before us contains no language that addresses this serious problem, despite its authorization of the administration's full request for over $100 million to be given to the IAEA.”
Rep. Berman (D-CA), who was leading the effort on behalf of H.R. 2410, opposed the amendment, although, he said he shared many of concerns expressed by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. His opposition was based on the fact that he disagreed with the assumption of Ros-Lehtinen “that withholding assessed contributions produces the actions we want. We've had test cases of this (which demonstrated otherwise).” Berman also opposed the amendment because it would hamper the Agency's primary function, which is the inspecting and safeguarding of nuclear material in foreign countries. This is cutting off your nose to spite your face. . . We'll end up cutting the funds that would otherwise be used by the IAEA to ensure that states are not diverting nuclear material from peaceful to military purposes--pretty serious concern--inspections that are in the direct national security interest of the United States.”
The amendment was defeated on a vote of 205-224. One hundred and seventy-four Republicans and thirty-one Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and twenty-three Democrats and one Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, all of the U.S. contribution to the International Atomic Energy Agency remained in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act.