The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has decided to appoint Romania’s former Permanent Representative at International Organizations in Vienna Cornel Feruta as the organization’s acting chief after Yukiya Amano’s death, the UN nuclear watchdog issued a statement on Thursday.

“As a consequence of the recent passing away of Director General Yukiya Amano, and in order to ensure the orderly and smooth functioning of the Agency, the Board of Governors has decided to designate Mr. Cornel Feruta as Acting Director General, until a Director General assumes office,” the statement says.

Russia’s Permanent Representative at International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov announced earlier on Thursday that Feruta had been appointed as the IAEA acting chief. According to Ulyanov, Feruta was the closest assistant of the late Yukiya Amano and coordinated the IAEA activity in several areas. “He will be working as the acting head before a new Director General who will have to be elected takes office,” Ulyanov wrote in his Twitter.

The IAEA Board of Governors held a special session on Thursday to pay tribute to the organization’s late chief Yukiya Amano and discuss the pending appointment of the UN nuclear watchdog’s acting head.

“Intensive consultations on the timeframe of electing a new IAEA Director General will take place in coming days. Normally, the election takes about a year. In view of Amano’s death, this process should be expedited,” the Russian permanent envoy wrote in his Twitter.

In accordance with the IAEA procedures, the Board of Governors makes a decision on appointing a Director General in a vote. Each candidate should be nominated by a country and be supported by a majority of the IAEA Board of Governors’ members. The candidature endorsed by the Board of Governors is subsequently approved at the IAEA General Conference held annually in autumn. The IAEA regular 63rd conference is scheduled for September 16-20.

Yukiya Amano died at the age of 72 on July 22. The 72-year old Japanese diplomat headed the IAEA since December 2009. In September 2017, Amano’s candidacy was approved for the third four-year term in a row to lead the organization until November 30, 2021. It was earlier reported that Amano might leave his post prematurely in March 2020 due to his illness.

Amano’s tenure saw the signing of the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. The JCPOA agreed by Tehran and six world powers (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) was inked on July 14, 2015 in Vienna.

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