Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina has been elected as the new Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In the final balloting held today, Grossi received the required majority from the IAEA Board of Governors to be appointed new Director General.
Grossi succeeds Yukiya Amano of Japan, who passed away in July.
The Argentine received the support of 24 members of the 35-nation Board of Governors, ahead of Romania’s Cornel Feruta with 10 votes. A further board meeting, which is open to all IAEA member states, will be held on Wednesday to appoint Grossi, a press release from IAEA said.
The Board of Governors decision will be submitted for approval to the IAEA General Conference, which consists of representatives of all 171 member states.
The new Director General — appointed for a term of four years — will be the IAEA’s sixth head since it was founded in 1957. The Board envisages that he will assume office no later than 1 January 2020.
Although the votes are secret, it is widely believed in the diplomatic circles that India backed Grossi.
In an interview to BusinessLine in September, Grossi had said that he would make sure that India’s prowess in application of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, such as medicine and agriculture, got due recognition.
In that interview, he acknowledged India’s vast pool of scientific talent and said that the Agency would tap into it in his term.
This is significant, because India’s Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has developed a number of contrivances that can be exported. Examples are ‘Bhabhatron’, a cobalt therapy machine for treating cancer, and ‘Bharat Kavach’, a nanotube-based bullet proof jacket. Under Amano, India’s capabilities were under-utilised.
Grossi said that coming from another developing country, he could understand India better.
Yukiya Amano of Japan was the IAEA’s fifth Director General. He was first appointed to the office effective December 2009 and reappointed in 2013 and 2017. He passed away on 18 July 2019.
He followed Mohamed El-Baradei (1997-2009), Hans Blix (1981-1997), Sigvard Eklund (1961-1981) and Sterling Cole (1957-1961).