|THE TOP JOB
When the IAEA Secretariat's top job changes hands this December, Dr. Hans Blix of Sweden will turn over the leadership to Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt. During his sixteen years in office since 1981, Dr. Blix guided the IAEA through several crises - including the temporary withdrawal of the USA from the IAEA at the end of 1982, the Chernobyl disaster, and violations of their safeguards agreements by Iraq and the DPRK. As observers have noted, under his direction the Agency accomplished much to enhance its authority and role in international affairs, and to bolster the international legal regime for nuclear energy. His analysis of the lessons of Iraq provided the framework for a strengthened safeguards programme approved by the Board in May 1997 - the most important development in international nuclear safeguards since the NPT safeguards system was set up in 1971.
Dr. ElBaradei was appointed to succeed Dr. Blix in June 1997 by a unanimous decision of the Agency's 35-member Board of Governors. The IAEA General Conference is expected to approve his appointment to an initial four-year term starting in December. Dr. ElBaradei holds the rank of Ambassador in the Egyptian Foreign Service. He is a distinguished international lawyer and diplomat and author of numerous publications on the United Nations, the IAEA and international law. He has served the IAEA since 1984 in several senior capacities, currently as Assistant Director General for External Relations.
Dr. ElBaradei becomes only the fourth Director General of the IAEA in forty years. The second was Dr. Sigvard Eklund, a distinguished Swedish scientist first appointed in 1961. Dr. Eklund was reappointed four more times and held the post for twenty consecutive years until he retired and was named Director General Emeritus. It was during his tenure that the main scientific and technical programmes, including supporting research and analytical laboratories, were established and developed.
At the top during the IAEA's formative years was Mr. Sterling Cole of the United States, the first appointed IAEA Director General who served from 1957-61. A US Congressman, he had been the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy of the US Congress.