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Pakistan to chair IAEA board

Pakistan is expected to become the next head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s governing body.

Western powers are not expected to oppose the nominee of a group of Middle East and South Asia member states because Pakistan was a longstanding member of the Vienna-based IAEA Board of Governors and the choice would be within its rules.

“People are talking about it but I don’t think there will be any uproar,” a European diplomat said. “There is no rule saying that an informal nuclear weapons state cannot be chair.”

The one-year position rotates between regions, who put forward their own nominee, and entails chairing debates of the IAEA’s 35-nation decision-making body and helping them reach consensus decisions. It would not give Pakistan individual powers to decide U.N. nuclear policy.

In theory, other IAEA member states could reject Pakistan’s chairmanship at a board meeting to decide on the issue scheduled for late September but this is very unlikely, diplomats said. Malaysia currently chairs the board.

“They are not the ideal board chairman but at the same time it is not really possible to make an issue of it,” the Western diplomat said, suggesting opposition would undermine the traditional selection process.

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