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Report: U.S.-backed program gave millions to Iran, Syria

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iran and Syria received millions of dollars from a U.S.-backed program that promotes the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

They were two of four terrorism-sponsoring countries to receive funding under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Technical Cooperation program, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report scheduled to be released Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Iran received more than $15 million from 1997 to 2007, while Syria received $14 million. Two other states designated by the United States as terrorism sponsors, Cuba and Sudan, each received more than $11 million.

The United States is the largest funder of the program, according to the GAO report, and in 2007 supplied $20 million, or about 25 percent of its budget. It does fund a number of non-nuclear energy programs, but also funds some projects with a direct connection to nuclear energy, including a small percentage the GAO said could provide expertise on the development of nuclear weapon capabilities, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The GAO report also called U.S. oversight of the program weak.

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