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New York, 22 September 2011

Secretary-General, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The Fukushima Daiichi disaster in March this year was a loud global wake-up call. It was a stark reminder that ensuring nuclear safety requires the maintenance of the highest nuclear safety and security standards, as well as long-term disaster-preparedness and strong international cooperation.

When one of the world’s best-prepared countries can experience such a large-scale nuclear accident, it is all too clear that we must continue to evolve our thinking and practices for the safe and secure operation of nuclear facilities worldwide.

I would like to take this opportunity to renew my expression of full support to the Government and people of Japan. I wish to highly commend the prompt action by the International Atomic Energy Agency in responding to the crisis. I also commend the organization’s convening of the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in June and its recent adoption of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. The significance of this Action Plan cannot be underestimated, as it charts the way forward for an effective and reliable global nuclear safety framework.

In this respect, I wish to particularly welcome the Secretary-General’s convening of this important high-level meeting, as part of his five-point initiative announced in Kiev in April. I also wish to commend the Secretary-General for launching, in May, the UN system-wide study on the implications of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Relevant international organizations made valuable contributions to the preparation of the system-wide Study, which is made available for consideration by our meeting today.

While there have been a number of important international high-level meetings this year aimed at constructively and responsibly addressing the issue of nuclear safety and security, including the G-8 Ministerial Summit on Nuclear safety and the Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, I also expect a further useful contribution to emerge from the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit planned for next March.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The growing interest in nuclear energy is largely a product of global energy demands and concerns over energy security. Nuclear technologies also have important applications in fields such as health, food and agriculture, and the environment and water resources.

Safe and efficient use of nuclear energy can advance the well-being of States and their peoples and help to achieve key MDGs. Serious examination of safe and efficient use of nuclear energy must thus consider closely related issues, including advancing nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation goals, the prevention of nuclear terrorism and others.

Today’s meeting represents a valuable opportunity to advance our international determination to review, strengthen and upgrade, as necessary, nuclear safety standards, practices and capabilities to the highest possible levels. We must also continue to support the work of the IAEA, given its major role in this regard.

I look forward to the success of our meeting today in further consolidating international action to promote nuclear safety and security. At the same time, I intend to continue to personally consult and work with both the Secretariat and Member States to follow-up on efforts to ensure that the United Nations and its relevant bodies and specialized agencies continue to play an effective role in this important area.

Thank you.

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