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VIENNA: The UN atomic agency’s board of governors yesterday approved giving Japanese Director General Yukiya Amano a new four-year term without even resorting to a vote.
In 2009, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-member board had needed six rounds of voting to select Amano for his first term, with developing countries worried he would be too pro-Western. This time however the 65-year-old’s second term, which will start in December following approval from all 159 IAEA members in September — a formality — passed by consensus, meaning no vote was taken.
Amano’s highest-profile challenge in his second term will again be Iran, amid international concerns that Tehran wants to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian atomic programme. Iran says that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to further nuclear disarmament, it has the right to a civilian nuclear programme.
But the IAEA, which conducts regular inspections of Iran’s facilities, says that because of a lack of cooperation it is “unable to... conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities”.
As a result, the UN Security Council has passed six resolutions calling on Iran to suspend parts of its programme until its purely peaceful nature can be confirmed. Israel and the United States have also refused to rule out military action.
In addition, the IAEA wants Tehran to address what it suspects are indications that the programme also has—or at least had in the past—“possible military dimensions” aimed at developing the bomb. Stretching back more than a year, the IAEA has held a series of failed meetings pressing Iran to address these allegations by giving the agency access to sites, documents and scientists, the latest last month.