IAEA elections, take seven

Over a month ago, the 35 countries that make up the International Atomic Energy Agency tried to elect a new Director to succede Mohamed ElBaradei, who is retiring in November. They tried, and then they tried again — and again and again, six times in all. Each time, neither of the leading candidates, Yukiya Amano of Japan or Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa, received the necessary 2/3 vote to win.

So, the field was opened to new candidates, and it looks like a Spaniard, one Luis Echavarri, currently the Director-General of the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, who might break the stalemate. The question is whether Echavarri will be able to bridge the gap that doomed both Amano, who received the bulk of his support from Western nations, and Minty, the candidate favored by the developing world. Amano and Minty are also both candidates this time around, as are two other experienced European nuclear diplomats, but it’s Echavarri who looks like he could be the consensus pick (interestingly, ElBaradei also had not been on the original ballot, and was chosen after a similar stalemate). Echavarri certainly seems confident:

“I can offer a solution to the standoff,” Mr. Echávarri said during an interview in Madrid. “We believe a consensus candidacy is taking shape, although we need more time. My goal is to get unanimous support, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be that way.”

Another diplomat, though, complained that Echavarri was not “inspiring” enough. With North Korea threatening more nuclear tests and Iran’s centrifuges still spinning, though, the IAEA might not have time to find the most “inspiring” candidate.

Stay tuned for updates.