Nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano has died, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday The news was released the same day he'd been expected to announce he'd step down early because of an illness.
The 72-year-old Japanese diplomat had held the position of IAEA director general since 2009.
He steered the U.N.
Agency through a period of intense diplomacy over Iran's nuclear program while seeking in vain to return to North Korea.
His death coincides with an escalation of tensions between Iran and the West.
Amano had been preparing to leave his position in March -- well before the end of his third four-year term, which ran until November 2021.
The IAEA announced last September that he'd undergone an unspecified medical procedure.