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New broom at UN nuclear watchdog

New broom at UN nuclear watchdog

Vienna: Argentine diplomat Rafael Grossi will be confirmed as the new director general of the UN's nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday, with the growing crisis over Iran's nuclear programme at the top of his in-tray.

The veteran diplomat, who has been serving as Argentina's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, will be the agency's first leader from Latin America.

Rafael Grossi previously held high-level posts at the agency between 2010

and 2013.

This brought him into contact with Iranian officials at a time when international negotiations over Iran's nuclear activities were intensifying. According to the former French ambassador to Iran Francois Nicoullaud, he will able to draw on "solid

experience in proliferation matters".

"He is someone of a very high calibre who comes from an important country in the nuclear field," says

Nicoullaud.

A current Vienna-based diplomat said Grossi was expected to bring "a lot of energy and innovation" to the post, with a particular focus on pushing gender parity within the agency and promoting the role of nuclear energy in fighting climate change.

Grossi will be taking over from Yukiya Amano, who died in July at the age of 72 having been in post since 2009.

While the US is thought to have lobbied in his favour, diplomats say Grossi has stressed his belief in the importance of the agency's impartiality.

Rafael Grossi begins his tenure amid a growing crisis over Iran's nuclear programme.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is charged with monitoring the implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which seems in danger of imminent collapse.

Diplomats from Iran and other remaining parties to the deal — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia — will gather in Vienna on Friday to

discuss ways forward for the crumbling deal.

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