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The director general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), Gideon Frank, has told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he wants to step down, after more than 14 years in his post.

A date for Frank's retirement will be set after a new director general is selected and a handover is effected, probably this summer.

The candidate likely to replace Frank as agency head is Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Shaul Horev, assistant to the defense minister for special projects. Horev, a former deputy commander of the Israel Navy, has also served as submarine fleet commander and head of Special Operations in the Israel Defense Forces General Staff. In 2000-01 he was Frank's deputy on the IAEC.

Frank, who will retire as the longest-serving IAEC director general, has served under six prime ministers, from Yitzhak Rabin to Olmert. Frank and his deputy, Dr. Eli Levita, are involved at the highest levels in the setting Israel's policy regarding Iran's nuclear program.

In his speech to the annual convention of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna last September, Frank warned that Israel would not stand idly by as Iran pursues its nuclear plan, at a time when that country's leaders were calling for Israel's destruction.