The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has appointed Romanian diplomat Cornel Feruta as acting director-general until a new chief for the United Nations' nuclear watchdog is chosen following the death earlier this week of Yukiya Amano.
"As a consequence of the recent passing away of Director General Yukiya Amano, and in order to ensure the orderly and smooth functioning of the Agency, the Board of Governors has decided to designate Mr. Cornel Feruta as acting Director General, until a Director General assumes office," the IAEA said in a statement on July 25.
Amano died at the age of 72 on July 22 of unspecified causes. However, his health was said to have been failing and he had been planning to step down in March 2020, well before the end of his third four-year term, which ran until November 30, 2021.
The Japanese diplomat had held the position of IAEA director general since 2009, taking over from Muhammad ElBaradei and steering the UN agency through a period of intense diplomacy over Iran's nuclear program.
Amano oversaw the signing of a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. The 2015 accord provided Iran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
President Donald Trump last year withdrew the United States from the agreement and reimposed economically crippling sanctions in many sectors, including the crucial oil and financial industries.