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Four candidates vie for UN nuclear watchdog top job

Yukiya Amano (IAEA Imagebank/Flickr)
September 08, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Four candidates from Argentina, Burkina Faso, Romania, and Slovakia hope to succeed the late Yukiya Amano as the director-general of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Following a September 5 nomination deadline, the hopefuls for the Vienna-based position include Romanian diplomat Cornel Feruta, the IAEA acting director-general, the agency said on September 6.

The other hopefuls include Rafael Mariano Grossi, Argentina’s ambassador to the IAEA, Lassina Zerbo of Burkina Faso, the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and Marta Ziakova, the head of Slovakia’s nuclear regulatory authority.

In October, IAEA member countries are planning to elect a successor to Amano, who died in his native Japan in July at the age of 72 of an unspecified cause.

The winning candidate will need the support of 24 countries among the 35 countries represented on the IAEA’s board of governors.

If no one gets the backing of two-thirds of the board members following several rounds of voting, the race will be reopened for additional candidates to apply.

Feruta, who had served as IAEA chief of staff until Amano’s death, is heading the agency until a new director-general is agreed upon.

The succession process comes at a crucial time for the IAEA, which is tasked with verifying Iran’s nuclear activities as the country is taking steps to abandon its 2015 nuclear pact with world powers.