US wants ‘regime change’ at IAEA
* Puts El Baradei under pressure
VIENNA: A new board of governors of the UN nuclear watchdog was to meet in Vienna on Monday to set procedures for electing a new director general, with current chief Mohamed El Baradei seeking to remain in office despite US opposition.
El Baradei had earlier this month put his hat into the ring for a third term at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) despite opposition from the United States and possibly other top UN funding states to his continuing in the job.
US officials have said the United States, the largest contributor to the United Nations, supports the position of the Geneva group of top 10 contributors that heads of international organisation should not serve more than two terms.
“This policy has nothing to do with the director general’s qualifications. The United States thinks that he’s done a very good job leading the agency at a very difficult time but it’s simply a matter of principle and good governance,” a Western official familiar with the US position said.
But El Baradei, who is supported by the 13 non-aligned countries on the IAEA’s 35-nation board, may get a boost in October as he is an apparent favourite to win the Nobel Peace Prize, after his work in monitoring nuclear activities in hot spots Iran, Iran, North Korea and Libya.
An IAEA spokesman said the board, which was elected last week at an IAEA general conference, “has to decide today procedures for the appointment of a new director general.”
He said the board would probably close applications for candidacies by December 31 and seek to have the new director general named by a board meeting in June 2005, in order to be formally elected at the next IAEA general conference in September 2005.
El Baradei, 61, who is Egyptian, has been at the Vienna-based IAEA for two decades and has as director general since 1997 become a world figure campaigning for nuclear non-proliferation. afp