Four candidates running to lead UN nuclear watchdog

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(Vienna) – Four candidates from three continents are in the running to lead the UN’s nuclear watchdog, which is tasked with monitoring implementation of the faltering Iran nuclear deal.

Slovakia put forward Marta Ziakova as the latest candidate for the position of director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is searching for a new chief following the death of Yukiya Amano in July.

The Slovakian foreign ministry pointed to 63-year-old Ziakova’s “extensive expertise in nuclear issues”.

She is currently head of the Slovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority and has also served in several diplomatic roles at the IAEA itself.

“In line with the efforts of late DG (director general) Amano who championed gender balance at the agency, we also think it´s high time for a woman to lead the organisation,” the ministry said in a statement.

Romanian diplomat Cornel Feruta, who was made acting director general after Amano’s death, has also put himself forward, a diplomatic source confirmed to AFP.

The Argentinian ambassador to the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, declared his candidacy early on in the race.

On Wednesday, Lassina Zerbo, 55, the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) — also based in Vienna — announced he was also in the running.

Zerbo, of Burkina Faso, told AFP that “my country asked me to stand” and that he was supported by other African nations.

Feruta, 43, who worked as a journalist before entering Romania’s diplomatic service in 1998, was one of Amano´s closest collaborators and had been serving as the agency’s chief coordinator.

Nominations formally close on Thursday evening but diplomats say no other names are expected to be put forward.