IAEA picks Belgian as new chief inspector: diplomats

13th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano on Monday chose Belgian nuclear expert Herman Nackaerts as the agency's new chief inspector, replacing Olli Heinone who resigned last month, diplomats said.

Amano officially notifed the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency of his choice for four new deputy director generals at the traditional September meeting which began in Vienna Monday.

And while the IAEA refused to officially confirm the nominations until the contracts had been signed, diplomats attending the closed-door session said 59-year-old Nackaerts was picked for the all-important position of head of safeguards.

The safeguards department is responsible for verifying that countries' nuclear activities are exclusively peaceful and not diverted for military purposes.

Heinonen, 63, stepped down at the end of August after five years on the job and nearly 30 years in the agency.

Nackaerts joined the IAEA in 2006, when he was appointed Heinonen's deputy. Prior to that, he was head of safeguards inspections at the European Commission.

© 2010 AFP

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