El-Baradei set to head UN nuclear watchdog for four more years

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Indy Politics

The leader of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed El-Baradei, is expected to be approved for a third term as head of the agency next week after the Americans dropped their opposition to his candidacy.

The US delegation on the board of the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)has been the only one to be implacably opposed to Mr El-Baradei running for a new four-year term of office.

The IAEA chief stood up to the Bush administration on Iraq before the war, dismissing documents purporting to show Iraq was smuggling uranium from Niger. He has also refused to confirm Washington's suspicions that Iran is working to produce a nuclear bomb.

A decision on his future is due in the course of next week's board meeting at the agency's headquarters in Vienna, and there had been fears the issue could come to a vote, leaving the US isolated. However, the Americans had never put up an alternative candidate to the 62-year old Egyptian.

"They virtually had no other choice," a diplomat said yesterday.

The US under-secretary of state for arms control, John Bolton, who is in a standoff with the Senate over his confirmation as UN ambassador, has been particularly vocal in his opposition to Mr El-Baradei.