Monday, September 14, 2009

Yukiya Amano Takes Over at IAEA

Yukiya-Amano And here we had just gotten used to Mohamed ElBaradei – we were almost fans:

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday formally appointed Yukiya Amano of Japan as its new director general from December 1, succeeding Mohamed ElBaradei.

The 150 member states of the UN nuclear watchdog approved Amano -- who has been Tokyo's ambassador to the IAEA -- by acclamation on the first day of the agency's annual week-long general conference.

And the takeaway on ElBaradei, who served for 12 years:

ElBaradei, 67, has frequently come under fire, particularly from the United States, for being too soft on Iran, which is suspected of seeking to develop the atomic bomb under the guise of a civilian nuclear energy programme.

That’s probably why were fans – he kept the agency’s balance between superpowers to the right of him and developing nations to the left of him. We’re not sure “He didn’t rat out his members” qualifies as retirement card material, but he faced a lot of graceless pushing from the big boys with a fair amount of grace.

Now, what about Amano? Well, let’s look at his IAEA bio.

Mr. Amano has extensive experience in disarmament, nonproliferation and nuclear energy policy and has been involved in the negotiation of major international instruments such as the NPT extension, the CTBT, the BTWC verification protocol, the amendment of the CCW and the ICOC. He represented Japan as a Governmental Expert on the UN Panel on Missiles in April 2001 and in the UN Expert Group on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Education in July 2001.

All that nonproliferation experience is likely to come in handy in the months ahead. Reuters, in a nice “Fact Box,” indicates Amano’s view on Iran:

Amano is close to the U.S. position on Iran, which is under IAEA investigation over Western suspicions that its declared civilian nuclear energy program is a facade for work on atomic bombs, something Iran denies.

We’re not sure facade is the right word, since Bushehr is getting ready to go online, but we take the meaning. His first speech at the IAEA’s annual gathering did not mention Iran explicitly, but as they were probably in the audience, understandable. Huffy walkouts don’t herald a good start, and Amano is a career diplomat. Interesting days ahead.

Himself.

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