U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano dies at 72

Reuters, AP

U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano has died at the age of 72, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Monday in a note to member states.

“The Secretariat of the International Atomic Energy Agency regrets to inform with deepest sadness of the passing away of Director General Yukiya Amano,” the IAEA secretariat said in the note.

Diplomats on Wednesday had said Amano, a longtime Japanese diplomat who was reappointed in 2017 to a third four-year term in charge of the IAEA, would step down in March of next year because of an unspecified illness that has visibly weakened him over the past year.

The IAEA’s responsibilities include policing the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities under Tehran’s 2015 deal with world powers, which the United States quit last year.

His departure raises the question of what future course the agency will take, though few expect its handling of Iran and other sensitive issues to change significantly.

Amano has frequently emphasized that his agency’s work is technical rather than political, a reaction to the tenure of his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei, who together with the IAEA was awarded the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize and clashed with U.S. officials over Iran.