The UN's nuclear watchdog has announced it will meet Thursday to start the hunt for a new director general to replace Yukiya Amano, who died last week.
The post of head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is particularly important as international tensions run high over Iran's nuclear activities.
Among the names circulating to succeed Amano are Romania's Cornel Feruta, one of his closest collaborators and currently the agency's chief coordinator; and Rafael Grossi, Argentina's ambassador to the IAEA.
The IAEA said Wednesday that the special meeting of the board of governors would also choose an interim chief, given the lengthy process needed to pick a permanent replacement.
Japanese diplomat Amano, who had led the agency since December 2009, died last week at the age of 72. No details were released about the cause of death, but he had been ill for several months.
His third term as IAEA chief had originally been due to expire in November 2021, but he had been set to announce his intention to step down early because for health reasons.
The agency is currently confronted with the unravelling of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which began when US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the agreement in May 2018.
The IAEA is tasked with monitoring Iran's nuclear activities to ensure they abide by the terms of the deal.
IAEA statutes set out several stages to the process of choosing a new secretary general, a procedure that normally takes a year, a source close to the agency told AFP.