The Japanese diplomat who led the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for a decade has died at the age of 72.
Director General Yukiya Amano headed the UN’s global nuclear watchdog since 2009 and was due to make an announcement to step down due to an illness.
In a statement this week, the IAEA, which seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, said: “The Secretariat of the International Atomic Energy Agency regrets to inform with deepest sadness of the passing away of Director General Yukiya Amano.”
No details have been given on the cause of death.
During his tenure, Mr Amano oversaw the signing of a landmark deal in 2015 between Iran and six major powers – the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US – under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting the sanctions.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement: “Since 2009, Director General Amano actively worked for a decade not only on international nuclear non-proliferation challenges including nuclear issues of North Korea and Iran, but also on development issues under his initiative ‘Atoms for Peace and Development’.
“Following the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, he provided assistance to Japan as well as led international efforts in enhancing nuclear safety, building on lessons learned from the accident.
“The Government of Japan highly commends Director General Amano’s leadership and achievements and expresses its greatest respect for his past contributions.”
No decisions have yet been made on the next IAEA chief.