World News

FACTBOX: Two candidates for head of UN nuclear watchdog

(Reuters) - Senior diplomats from Japan and South Africa are running to succeed Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in an election scheduled on Thursday and Friday.

Following are brief profiles of Yukiya Amano, Japanese ambassador on the Vienna-based IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors, and South African counterpart Abdul Samad Minty.


* Amano, 62, has specialized in multilateral disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation posts and negotiations over 36 years in Japan’s foreign service, with postings in Washington, Brussels, Geneva and Vientiane.

* He took part in arms control talks that produced the 1995 extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the verification protocol for the 2001 Biological Weapons Convention.

* Amano served as chairman of the IAEA’s policy-making governing body in 2005-06 when the agency and ElBaradei were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Amano accepted the prize on behalf of the agency.

* He is seen as a reserved technocrat who would “depoliticize” the IAEA helm after 12 years of the outspoken ElBaradei, who tackled issues of war, peace, sanctions and diplomacy on Iraq and Iran, riling Washington and close allies.

* Amano said he would stick to the IAEA’s technical mandate of inspections to forestall proliferation and fostering the safe use of nuclear energy for economic development and medicine. He said he would also improve communication between the IAEA inspectorate and the governors and manage the agency better.

* Amano is close to U.S. positions, including a tough approach to 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.

* Amano’s support has come mainly from industrialized nations on the IAEA Board. He has held the lead throughout the campaign but whether he could obtain the 2/3 majority needed for victory remained unclear in the run-up to the election.


* Minty is a veteran arms control and non-proliferation negotiator who, as a former anti-apartheid activist who lived in exile for decades, has also played a prominent role in multilateral development and human rights affairs.

* South Africa’s IAEA governor since 1995, Minty is also deputy director general of its foreign ministry and has long been a prominent, eloquent voice in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of developing nations.

* Minty was involved in many of the same multilateral treaty negotiations as Amano but has more charisma and rhetorical flair than his rival and is known for his mediation skills.

* Like Amano he is committed to the IAEA’s core mandate but, like ElBaradei, he sees the directorship as inescapably political because the key issues are political. He says the director must have political nous to forge consensus.

* Minty echoes the NAM position that non-proliferation must not be used by world powers as a pretext to withhold nuclear technology from developing nations or to detract from their NPT obligation to phase out nuclear arsenals.

* He appears to have been backed mostly by developing countries in the campaign to succeed ElBaradei.