July 22, 2019 / 8:27 AM / a month ago

Factbox: Amano headed U.N. nuclear watchdog during turbulent period

FILE PHOTO: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano smiles as he waits for a board of governors meeting to begin at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano has died, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday. He was 72.

Here are five facts about Amano.

- Amano, a gently-spoken Japanese diplomat, took over as head of the IAEA in 2009, replacing Egypt’s Mohamed ElBaradei, who had often clashed with U.S. officials over Iran.

- Amano was reappointed in 2017 to a third four-year term. His term had been due to run until Nov. 30, 2021, but diplomats said last week he was planning to step down early, in March next year, due to an unspecified illness.

- The IAEA’s responsibilities include policing restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities under Tehran’s 2015 deal with world powers. Amano often emphasised that his agency’s work is technical, not political, but the U.S. decision to quit the 2015 deal has added to already considerable political pressures on him and his agency. That decision has triggered a growing standoff between Tehran and Washington, which has reimposed economic sanctions on Iran.

- Amano said the spread of atomic weapons and nuclear terrorism posed an increasing threat for the international community. “It is unlikely that this trend will ever be reversed, but rather it will continue to accelerate,” he said.

- Born in 1947 and a graduate of Tokyo University, Amano specialised in multilateral disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation posts and negotiations during more than three decades in Japan’s foreign service. He served as chairman of the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors in 2005-06 when the agency and ElBaradei were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Amano accepted the prize on behalf of the agency.

Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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