IAEA inspectors are complaining that delays caused by their existing hardware and software, which dates from the 1970s, hamper their ability to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
The databases at the IAEA's Vienna headquarters contain detailed and confidential information on past inspections of 900 sites worldwide.
Livio Costantini, manager for the agency's nuclear "safeguards" division, said, "Extracting information can take hours and days, making timely analysis of relevant safeguards data difficult and expensive."
The agency uses an IBM mainframe running alongside Microsoft SQL servers and Software AG's Adabas database management system Adabas.
The growth in concern about terrorism and countries such as North Korea were loading additional IT demands on the already stretched system. "A major overhaul of the system is needed to allow inspectors immediate, secure online access to safeguard information," he added.
The IAEA has called on member countries to contribute $10m (£5.3m) towards the upgrade.