IAEA Director General and Japanese diplomat Yukija Amano has decided to step down early in March due to some health issues, according to diplomatic sources on Thursday

“An official statement about his departure is expected next week,” a diplomat told AFP.

Amano, a 72-year-old Japanese diplomat, was reappointed in 2017 to a third four-year term in charge of the International Atomic Energy Agency, until November 30, 2021.

Amano has been the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 2009 and his latest mandate had been due to run until 2021.

But Amano is seeking to step down for health reasons, another diplomat told AFP.

Amano’s health has been deteriorating since the IAEA announced last September that he had undergone an unspecified medical procedure outside Austria, where his agency is based.

However, he has remained in charge of IAEA operations and continued to run the agency, according to reports.

Amano’s plan to leave in March leaves the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors time to pick a successor, who must also be approved by the agency’s General Conference, a meeting of all its member states. A regular annual meeting of the General Conference is due to be held in September.

IAEA said on Wednesday while asking for comments that “The director-general is in contact with Members of the Board of Governors regarding his future plans. He will make a formal communication to the Board at an appropriate time”.