Veteran Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano was elected new director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a closely contested election recently.
The world’s top nuclear watchdog IAEA chose Japan’s Yukiya Amano as its next head and he touched on the devastation the US atom bombs wrecked on his country in pledging to do his utmost to prevent the spread of nuclear arms.
The decision by the 35-nation IAEA was finalized who should succeed Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who saw the nuclear watchdog vaulted into prominence during his high-profile 12-year tenure.
North Korea left the non-proliferation fold to develop a nuclear weapons program on ElBaradei’s watch and his agency later launched inconclusive probes on suspicions that those to nations were interested in developing nuclear weapons.
Industrialized nations backed Amano, whom they viewed as a low-profile technocrat uninterested in leaving a political footstep on the agency; developing countries supported his rival, South Africa’s Abdul Samad Minty, considered ready to challenge the US and other nuclear power countries on issues such as disarmament.
An initial session down to the wire, with Amano winning only in the fourth round.
That and the fact that Amano barely eked out his victory, just clearing the two-thirds majority needed, reflected a continuing divide between the two camps. The divisions have served as an obstacle in one of its key tasks probing nations suspected of secret, possibly weapons-related, nuclear activities.
Now his country’s chief delegate to the IAEA, Amano was previously his country’s senior official for disarmament and related issues. He has also chaired key IAEA meetings during his more than three-year tenure as chief IAEA delegate.
He still needs to be confirmed by the board, in a session planned, and in September by the full IAEA general assembly. IAEA officials suggested both meetings would rubber-stamp the choice of Amano, saying it would be unheard of for them to overturn the vote results.
Saying he would do his utmost to prevent nuclear proliferation, Amano, 62, appealed for “solidarity of all the member states countries from North, from South, from East and West” to achieve that goal. Japan thanked India for supporting the candidature of its diplomat Amano. This was conveyed by Premier Taro Aso to visiting External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who drove to the Japanese leader’s official residence after the delegation-level talks with his counterpart Hirofumi Nakasone.