Yukiya   Amano

Yukiya Amano

International Atomic Energy Agency Governor

The International Atomic Energy Agency is to decide on a successor to Egypt's Mohamed ElBaradei as Director-General on 26-27 March. Two IAEA Governors, Yukiya Amano and Abdul Samad Minty, have been jostling for the post since 2008. On ElBaradei's watch, the Agency uncovered clandestine nuclear activities in Libya, North Korea and Iran; the latter two remain to be tackled. Both candidates come from countries with unique perspectives on nuclear arms. Japan is the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack. South Africa built its own nukes but dismantled its programme after international pressure. Amano is thought to have wider support than Minty, but falls short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

Minty commands credibility from his activist past. He was studying international relations at University College, London, in 1959 when he founded the British Anti-Apartheid Movement. The next two decades brought him close to leaders of the African National Congress and the Non-Aligned Movement. With the ANC he campaigned against South Africa's nuclear weapons programme, a goal realised in 1989-1991 when President F.W. de Klerk opened facilities to IAEA inspectors. Now a Deputy Director-General of Foreign Affairs, Minty has been an IAEA governor since 1995.

The favoured candidate of the nuclear powers, Yukiya Amano, is likely to take a more functional route and avoid politics. His critics fear he will back the superpowers in blocking access to technology. To counter this, he has stressed his involvement in the Agency's health initiatives: cancer therapy and the successful tsetse fly eradication program in Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Amano joined the Foreign Ministry in 1972 after graduating from Tokyo University. Between postings to embassies in the United States, Laos, Belgium and France, he carved out a niche in nuclear energy and arms control. Before becoming Japan's IAEA Governor in 2005, he was the Director-General for the Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department.

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