* IAEA chief Amano has taken "firm" line towards Iran
* Criticised over initial response to Fukushima disaster
* Diplomats expect new term for veteran Japanese diplomat
VIENNA, Sept 26 United Nations nuclear agency
chief Yukiya Amano, a key figure in international diplomacy over
Iran's disputed nuclear activity, will seek a new four-year term
next year, the Vienna-based organisation said on Wednesday.
Western diplomats say they expect Amano, who has taken a
tougher approach on the Iran nuclear file than his predecessor
Mohamed ElBaradei, to be reappointed without problems, in
contrast to his close election victory in 2009.
"I don't expect anyone will challenge him," one European
diplomat said, adding that Amano has been "very firm" on Iran.
The 35-nation governing board of the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), which will decide on the issue by June
next year, on Monday set a Dec. 31 deadline for the nomination
of candidates. So far, Amano is the only confirmed candidate.
"The DG (Director General Amano) has announced that he is
available for another term," the IAEA's press office said in an
e-mail on Wednesday.
Under Amano, the IAEA was criticised last year for a
perceived slow initial response to Japan's Fukushima nuclear
disaster and the agency's ties with Tehran have become
However, Western diplomats are generally happy with the way
Amano has stepped up pressure on Iran to make it stop
stonewalling an agency investigation into suspected atom bomb
research, even if that push has yet to bear fruit. Iran denies
Western allegations that it is seeking to develop nuclear
In 2009, supported largely by industrialised nations, Amano
defeated South Africa's Abdul Samad Minty in a sixth round of
balloting after five inconclusive votes.