Anti-Nuclear Japanese To Lead Atomic Agency

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Credit: IAEANuclear Abolition News | IDN
By Baher Kamal

IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

VIENNA (IDN) - Japan, the sole country that has been suffering, for over half a century now, the abject consequences of the United States' nuclear bombs during the II World War, will soon be leading international efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

In fact, subsequent to a highly disputed selection process, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) appointed on July 3 Yukiya Amano, the Japanese ambassador and expert on disarmament, non-proliferation and nuclear energy policy, as its new Director General.


Following the vote, Amano referred to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities that the U.S. army attacked with nuclear bombs. He said that "as a national coming from Japan, I'll do my utmost to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. In order to do that, solidarity of all the member states countries from North, from South, from East and West is absolutely necessary".

Speaking to reporters, Amano said he was "determined to prevent nuclear proliferation" and considered "a unified approach among IAEA members as crucial to achieving that goal".

As the new director general of the IAEA, Amano vowed: "I will do my utmost to enhance the welfare of the human beings and ensure sustainable development through the peaceful use of nuclear energy."

Amano, 62, permanent representative and plenipotentiary ambassador of Japan to international organisations in Vienna, and Governor on the IAEA Board of Governors which selected him, has been involved in the negotiation of major related international instruments.

The Japanese ambassador, who was selected by the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors on July 2, receiving the required two-thirds majority of votes cast, was competing for the post with two strong candidates: Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa, and Luis Echávarri of Spain. Amano and Minty were the candidates in the final round of balloting.

Amano, who will lead the IAEA for a four-year term, has held senior positions in the Japanese foreign ministry, notably as director of the Science Division, director of the Nuclear Energy Division and deputy director general for Arms Control and Scientific Affairs.

SUCCEEDING EL ABARADEI AND HANS BLIX

The veteran Japanese diplomat and expert is to become the fifth Director General of the IAEA in its 52-year history. He will succeed Mohamed El Baradei, who was first appointed to the office effective December 1997, and reappointed in 2001 and 2005.

Other former IAEA Director Generals were Hans Blix (1981-1997) who led the UN team of inspectors in Iraq previous to its invasion by the United States in 2003; Sigvard Eklund (1961–1981), and Sterling Cole (1957–1961).

The IAEA is the international centre of co-operation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world's 'Atoms for Peace' organisation in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

The IAEA secretariat, which Amano will soon lead, is a team of 2,200 multi-disciplinary professional and support staff from more than 90 countries.

IAEA financial resources include the regular budget and voluntary contributions. The regular budget for 2007 amounts to Euro 283 611 000. The target for voluntary contributions to the Technical Co-operation Fund for 2007 is $80 million.

JAPANESE AGAINST THE 'ABSOLUTE EVIL'

The appointment of Amano adds to Japanese civil society efforts for a world free of nuclear weapons. In fact, the 12 million members of non-governmental organisation Soka Gakkai International (SGI) around the world, have embarked in a wide-long campaign for nuclear abolition.

'The People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition' initiative created by SGI aims to rouse public opinion and help create a global grassroots network of people dedicated to abolishing nuclear weapons.

Every year, SGI president Daisaku Ikeda launches a peace proposal which explores the interrelation between core Buddhist concepts, which are at the heart of the organisation, and the diverse challenges global society faces in the effort to realise peace and human security.

In the 2009 Peace Proposal--"Toward Humanitarian Competition: A New Current in History", Ikeda suggests “three pillars to serve as the mainstays for transforming the current global crisis into a catalyst for opening a new future for humanity through stimulating the kind of humanitarian competition that will create a global community of peace and coexistence.”

"The first of these pillars is the sharing of action through tackling environmental problems," Ikeda explains. "The second is the sharing of responsibility through international co-operation on global public goods," he adds, and "the third is the sharing of efforts for peace toward the abolition of nuclear arms".

According to Ikeda "nuclear weapons embody an absolute evil that threatens humankind's right to live; they are incompatible not only with the interests of national security but with human security.” – 03.07.2009
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