Voting inconclusive so far in search for new I.A.E.A. chief

By Alan Cowell Published: March 26, 2009

PARIS: Officials from 35 nations failed in initial voting Thursday to choose a successor to Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

Taous Feroukhi, chairwoman of the agency’s 35-member board of governors, said that neither of the two candidates had secured a two-thirds majority in the first three rounds of voting so ‘‘we were not able at this stage’’ to elect a successor to Mr. ElBaradei, whose term expires in November.

The outcome raised the possibility of a stalemate that could lead to new candidates.

(HH here: That would be a disaster. The Japanese guy is already the best we could hope for. I mean really, who would be more dedicated to making sure NO ONE used the damn things as weapons ever again? He is solidly in the lead. He should get the leadership.)

Only last week President Barack Obama offered a video message to Iran urging the leadership in Tehran to talk out its many differences with the United States — an offer that was swiftly rebuffed by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other Iranian officials.

(HH: I keep telling my more conservative Friends that this reaching out is not naive at all. By putting countries like Iran in a corner by walking up with that Howdy Doody Grin of his and holding out his hand he makes THEM reject HIM. This frees up his possible responses considerably!! When the cruise missiles fly toward their nuclear facilities everyone in the world will see that it was IRAN that said they refused to talk.)

In the balloting Thursday, Yukiya Amano, 62, Japan’s ambassador to the organization, faced his South African counterpart, Abdul Samad Minty.

Under the organization’s rules, the winner needed 24 votes to secure a two-thirds majority.

But Ms. Feroukhi, who is from Algeria, said that in the first of three rounds Thursday Mr. Amano won 21 votes to Mr. Minty’s 14, while the margin in the second and third rounds was 20 to 15. Ms. Feroukhi was speaking to reporters in Vienna and her remarks were relayed by the I.A.E.A. on its Web site.

The agency’s rules provide for a second day of balloting Friday in which officials cast votes first for the leading candidate, and, if that ballot is inconclusive, for his rival. If neither wins, a new contest would be started from scratch.

(HH: That would really suck!!! Having someone outside the Europe-America/Islam conflict and from the only culture to have been on the receiving end is more than anyone could hope for!)

Both candidates are experienced diplomats and negotiators.

The choice of candidates reflects a division in the I.A.E.A. between those Western and industrialized nations that lead the nuclear club and see the atomic agency’s prime role as a watchdog (HH:in other words those who do not want ANYONE to EVER use the things again), and developing countries more interested in the broader use of nuclear energy. (HH:In other words the countries that have no clue that the bomb is anything more than a bigger popgun to threaten their neighbors with. They all feel that if countries like America can have them EVERYONE should have them. Atomic weapons do not level the playing field, too many players having them simply guarantees the playing field will be incinerated.)

Mr. Amano, depicted by experts as the candidate favored by the United States, favors a strict approach toward Iran, which Western countries contend is trying to build nuclear weapons.

Iran says that its nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes to generate energy.

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