July 22, 2019 04:00 PM NPT
VIENNA, July 22: U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano has died, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday, the day he had been expected to announce he would step down early because of an illness that had visibly weakened him over the past year.
The 72-year-old Japanese diplomat had held the position of IAEA director-general since 2009, taking over from Mohamed El Baradei and steering the U.N. agency through a period of intense diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program while seeking in vain to return to North Korea.
His death coincides with a sharp escalation of tensions between Iran and the West following Washington’s decision last year to quit a 2015 international deal that curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions.
President Donald Trump has reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran, and the fate of the landmark deal, which the IAEA has been overseeing, is unclear.