Two candidates from two continents are in a close contest to be the next chief of United Nations's nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whose job is to monitor the implementation of stalled Iran nuclear deal, as per a diplomat on October 15. IAEA is searching for a new chief amidst the demise of its head Yukiya Amano, in July earlier this year.
Reports say that Romanian diplomat Cornel Feruta, who is currently the organisation's acting director-general since Amano's death, is in a close contest with Argentinian ambassador to IAEA, Rafael Grossi, for the post of Chief. In an informal vote by 35-member board of governors of the IAEA, Feruta got 14 votes, while Grossi got 15 votes as per a diplomat privy to the voting process. A third candidate, Lassina Zerbo of Burkina Faso received five votes. A total of 34 votes were cast. Zerbo is the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) which is based in Vienna alongside IAEA. A fourth candidate Marta Ziakova who is the chief of Slovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority has withdrawn from the race after she did not receive any vote in an earlier vote.
The procedure of appointing a new director-general will usually take around a year but a meeting of the IAEA's board of governors, which was held after Amano's death agreed to a faster schedule, which will see a new head appointed in October. No particular date has been set for an official vote yet. The new chief needs two-thirds of the votes of the board of governors. The IAEA is the authority responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear activities to make sure the country abides by the terms of 2015 deal known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which has seen a gradual collapse since the US withdrew in May 2018.
(With inputs from PTI)