Argentinian diplomat Rafael Mariano Grossi takes office as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this week after winning unanimous support from the organization’s Member States.
A special session of the IAEA’s General Conference today approved by acclamation his appointment for a term of four years from 3 December. In his new capacity, Director General Grossi will lead the world’s centre for cooperation in the nuclear field. He will be the IAEA’s sixth Director General since it was founded in 1957.
The decision by the General Conference, which consists of representatives of the 171 Member States, comes just over a month after the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors on 31 October appointed Mr Grossi to the post.
"The IAEA is a formidable institution with a unique mandate, and I want to ensure that it delivers at its full potential," the newly-appointed Director General said. "Our functions cover highly diverse areas such as medicine, agriculture, energy, climate change, and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The IAEA’s activities are important to all Member States and their citizens."
A senior diplomat with over 35 years of experience in the fields of non-proliferation and disarmament, Mr Grossi was Argentina’s Ambassador to Austria and its Representative to the IAEA and other Vienna-based International Organizations from 2013 to 2019. In this function he presided over several important conferences in the nuclear domain. He served as Assistant Director General for Policy and Chief of Cabinet at the IAEA from 2010 to 2013. From 2007 to 2009 he held the position of Political Affairs Director General with the Argentinian Foreign Service. He was Chief of Cabinet at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague from 2002 to 2007. Previously, he held several positions within the Argentinian Foreign Ministry after joining in 1985.
The IAEA works with its Member States and partners throughout the world to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. It has helped to improve the health and prosperity of millions of people by making nuclear science and technology available for generating electricity and fighting cancer as well as in food and agriculture, industry and many other areas. IAEA inspectors verify that nuclear material is not being diverted from peaceful activities.
Mr Grossi, 58, said the dynamic development of nuclear applications during recent decades had widened the IAEA’s mission.
”The IAEA today is more significant than ever,” he said, emphasizing its relevance for some of the most pressing issues of our time. “My leadership will focus on current challenges such as preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, fostering development and fighting climate change. To achieve these goals, we will intensify our efforts and explore new, creative ways to improve the Agency’s management, gender balance, communication and transparency. We will efficiently provide our services to Member States as a state-of-the art organization of the 21st century.”
Mr Grossi succeeds Yukiya Amano of Japan who was the IAEA’s fifth Director General. Mr Amano was first appointed to the office in 2009 and died on 18 July 2019. He followed Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt, Director General from 1997 to 2009; Hans Blix of Sweden, 1981-1997; Sigvard Eklund of Sweden, 1961-1981; and Sterling Cole of the United States of America, 1957-1961.