Mohamed ElBaradei will serve a third four-year term as director general of the IAEA. The agency’s 35-member board unanimously endorsed ElBaradei as the USA dropped its opposition.

Although UN agency heads would normally serve a maximum of two terms, sources say that there was no serious alternative candidate to ElBaradei. In addition, with the ongoing Iranian crisis, it was thought that changing leadership at this time could be a mistake.

Despite wide popularity, ElBaradei’s relationship with the USA has been turbulent, not least because of his contradiction of US assertions on Iraq’s nuclear capabilities during the run-up to 2003’s war.

The main force in opposition to a third term was the USA’s John Bolton, formerly of the state department. Bolton had, among other things, accused ElBaradei of softness over Iran but his priorities have changed since President Bush nominated him to represent the USA at the UN.

David Albright, a former weapons inspector in Iraq and now president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said last night: “With Bolton moving, people realised that opposing ElBaradei was a losing venture and it was better not to go down in flames.”

ElBaradei told journalists upon his reappointment: “In the next four years we have tremendous challenges. We have major issues facing global security; we have major issues facing development. These two issues cut across all our activities. My colleagues and I are committed to do our very best to protect ourselves against the dissemination of nuclear weapons; and against poverty. We will continue to work with the members of the international community to see a world free from nuclear weapons.”

Steve Kidd pq July 2005
In theory, a reduction of the tails assay from 0.33% to 0.26% could reduce uranium requirements by 15%