Nuclear security is an extremely important issue for all countries and it is
vital that the right lessons are learned from the accident at the Japanese power
plant earlier this year, the head of the United Nations International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) told Member States.
Reporting on activities over the past year, Yukiya Amano told
the General Assembly that the IAEA has been doing everything it can to help
Japan bring the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant under
control and to mitigate the consequences of the accident.
Since the accident, which occurred in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami
that struck Japan in March, the international community has mobilized to assess
and apply lessons learned. It has discussed the issue at numerous forums and
taken concrete steps, including the adoption by the IAEA of an action plan to
strengthen nuclear safety.
The action plan includes agreement for a “stress test” of nuclear power plants
in all countries with active nuclear programmes, the strengthening of the IAEA
peer review system on operational safety, and a review of relevant safety
standards and conventions.
“The action plan represents a significant step forward,” said Mr. Amano. “It is
vital that it is fully implemented in all countries with nuclear power and that
the right lessons are learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.”
Despite the accident, he noted, the agency’s latest projection is that the
number of operating nuclear reactors in the world will continue to increase
steadily in the coming decades, although less rapidly than was anticipated
before the accident. Most of the growth will occur in countries that already
have operating nuclear power plants, such as China and India.
The factors contributing to increasing interest in nuclear power have not
changed, said Mr. Amano. These include increasing global demand for energy, as
well as concerns about climate change, volatile fossil fuel prices and security
of energy supply.
Mr. Amano also reported on the agency’s continued safeguards activities in the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iran and Syria. He urged Iran to
take steps to “establish international confidence” in the exclusively peaceful
nature of its nuclear programme, and urged DPRK to fully comply with relevant
IAEA and Security Council resolutions.
He announced that the agency will hold a forum in Vienna on 21 and 22 November
to consider the relevance to the Middle East of the experience of Africa, the
South Pacific, South-East Asia, Central Asia, and Latin America and the
Caribbean in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.
A UN-sponsored conference is slated to be held next year on the establishment of
a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. All States in the region are
expected to attend the meeting, which will be hosted by Finland.