Nuclear safety action plan endorsed at UN conference in Vienna

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

22 September 2011 – The general conference of the United Nations atomic energy agency today unanimously endorsed an action plan on nuclear safety that is intended to enhance transparency in the ongoing global effort to set effective safety standards.

“The IAEA’s [International Atomic Energy Agency] 151 Member States have today endorsed the agency’s Action Plan on Nuclear Safety,” said Yukiya Amano, the agency’s Director General, at the IAEA’s General Conference in Vienna, which concludes tomorrow.

The action plan had been requested by governments at the IAEA’s ministerial conference on Nuclear Safety in June. Mr. Amano said the plan was a product of intensive consultations with Member States and was both a “rallying point and a blueprint for strengthening nuclear safety worldwide.”

He said it contained concrete and achievable actions to make nuclear safety more robust and effective than before, following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan in March that was triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami.

“At its core is greater transparency. If there is more transparency, there is more incentive to implement all the actions in the plan, and to be seen to do so,” said Mr Amano. “We count on Member States to implement the action plan fully and vigorously. It will need their sustained commitment and full involvement. We must not lose our sense of urgency. Public expectations are very high,” he said.

During the General Assembly’s annual general debate in New York today, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite urged the world to adhere to strict global nuclear safety standards.

“Each and every nuclear power plant, its site, nuclear technology, and even the ability of the personnel to ensure safety maintenance should be subjected to stress tests,” said Ms. Grybauskaite.

“The prevention of any type of crisis – be it military conflict, nuclear accident or terrorist act – is the challenge for all of us. But it is also an opportunity. The opportunity to strengthen the UN’s leadership,” she said.

At a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security convened today by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the margins of the General Assembly’s general debate in New York, the UN chief said the Fukushima disaster and the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago – were a “wake-up call” for the world.

“The effects of nuclear accidents respect no borders. To adequately safeguard our people, we must have strong international consensus and action. We must have strong international safety standards,” Mr. Ban told the meeting.

Mr. Amano said that he was confident that the high-level meeting in New York would build on the foundation laid in Vienna.

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