20 June 2011

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

New Page of History about to Be Turned in Relationship with Nuclear


Energy, Secretary-General Says in Message on Nuclear Safety


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message, delivered by Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Conference on Nuclear Safety, today, 20 June, in Vienna:

This ministerial gathering takes place in the still-sombre shadow of the nuclear tragedy at Fukushima.  I thank Director General [Yukiya] Amano and the IAEA for their swift response to the accident and for the Agency’s continuous follow-up efforts.  Recognizing its central role in nuclear safety and security, I look forward to the Agency’s development of concrete proposals, including for strengthening cooperation among international organizations.  To the people of Japan, I offer my deepest sympathies, as well as my pledge to do all I can to ensure that no such tragedy ever happens again at a nuclear facility.

During my visit to Chernobyl in April to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the accident, I witnessed the devastation first-hand, a moving experience which provided an opportunity to reflect upon the impact.  Taken together, the disasters at Fukushima and Chernobyl should serve as a serious wake up call.  Nuclear safety is not a fixed condition, but an evolving process.

Much of this process involves technological innovations, improvements in training and oversight mechanisms, as well as enhanced disaster preparedness.  I believe the lessons of Fukushima will help to move this process forward, so that countries will reflect on their current system of nuclear safety and promote a renewed culture of nuclear safety.

The future of nuclear energy is critically dependent upon the maintenance of the highest safety standards.  This is why nuclear safety is widely viewed as a global public good; its success serves the interests of people everywhere, but its failure can lead to disasters that respect no national boundaries.  Fortunately, political momentum is growing for additional concrete steps to enhance nuclear safety, including the measures considered at the most recent G-8 Summit, the Ministerial Seminar on Nuclear Safety hosted by France, and the Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

And as a global public good, nuclear safety also deserves close attention at the United Nations.  With that in mind, last month I launched a United Nations system-wide study on the full implications of the Fukushima accident.  This report is now in preparation and will be submitted to the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security to be held on 22 September during the sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly.  I thank the IAEA for its important cooperation in the preparation of this study.  In producing it, I intend to highlight the need to strengthen the capacity of the relevant international organizations, particularly the IAEA, given its central role.

A new page of history is about to be turned in our relationship with nuclear energy.  The challenge of nuclear safety merits our utmost ingenuity and will, and I wish all participants well in your important deliberations.  When it comes to nuclear safety, nations must remain united.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record