Rafael Mariano Grossi, Argentina's ambassador to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has confirmed his candidacy for the body's vacant director general post.
Member states decided that nominations would be received until September 5, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said following a special meeting of its board of governors in Vienna.
In total, four candidates from three continents hope to succeed the late Yukiya Amano as the director general of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that Cornel Feruta of Romania, its chief coordinator under Amano and currently the acting director general, is one of the candidates.
The IAEA elected Romanian diplomat Feruta as its acting director general until a permanent successor is elected "in order to ensure the orderly and smooth functioning of the Agency."
nother candidate is Lassina Zerbo of Burkina Faso, the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation.
Also nominated in time for the September 5 deadline were Grossi and Marta Ziakova, the head of Slovakia's nuclear regulatory authority.
"The Board expects to appoint a director general in October 2019 and, in any case, envisages that the person appointed will assume office no later than 1 January 2020," it said in a statement.
Amano died in July.
The US had pushed for a timetable to ensure a new chief would be named by September, but other states were understood to want more time for the process.
The next director will wade into some of the thorniest terrain in global relations. The IAEA won a Nobel Peace Prize for debunking false intelligence that led up to the 2003 war in Iraq. Later, it was thrust into disputes in Syria and North Korea as well as international concern over nuclear safety after the Fukushima reactor meltdowns in Japan in 2011.
The race to succeed Amano will be keenly watched given heightened international tensions over Iran's nuclear activities.
The UN agency is currently confronted with the unravelling of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which began when President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the United States out of the agreement in May 2018.
Grossi is on record as saying inspectors monitoring Iran’s nuclear deal could benefit from more openness.
As a top candidate to head the International Atomic Energy Agency, Grossi would likely face US and Israeli pressure to open a new investigation based on documents and nuclear material allegedly discovered in a warehouse in Tehran.
US President Donald Trump recently accused Iran of “secretly” enriching uranium, something international inspectors haven’t reported.
“Uncertainty arises from silence,” Grossi said in an interview, explaining his view that IAEA safeguards inspectors should communicate more clearly. He pledged “firm but fair” monitoring and a “constant dialogue” with member governments.
Grossi, 58, was Amano’s deputy at the height of the Iran investigation, traveling to Tehran as part of a team that published a report in November 2011 that detailed Iran’s past nuclear-military activities.
His candidacy has won backing from Brazil, a Latin American ally and member of the agency’s board of governors.