Amano Prods IAEA Members to Implement Action Plan

Developed after the Fukushima Daiichi crisis began, the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety is up for endorsement at the agency's 55th General Conference in Vienna this week.

The most important item on the agenda for this week's International Atomic Energy Agency 55th General Conference in Vienna, Austria is member countries' endorsement of the IAEA Action Plan for Nuclear Safety. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu both addressed the conference Sept. 19 about peaceful nuclear power in the post-Fukushima Daiichi age.

"Since the last General Conference, the most important single item on the IAEA agenda has been the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. This caused deep public anxiety throughout the world and damaged confidence in nuclear power," Amano said. He noted the action plan was approved by the IAEA Board of Governors last week.

"Compared to the arrangements that were in place before the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Action Plan represents a significant step forward in strengthening nuclear safety," Amano added. "We will continue to send technical teams to Japan, as required. The most important thing now is to ensure transparency, build confidence, and meet the high expectations of the public. It is actions, not words, that count. Firm and sustained commitment from all Member States is needed for the full implementation of the Action Plan. New lessons will continue to be learned in the months and years ahead and the Action Plan will be updated accordingly. For our part, we are doing everything we can to prioritize and increase efficiency within our limited resources, but additional financial support for the agency's nuclear safety activities will be necessary."

He said IAEA's current assessment of Fukushima Daiichi is that the reactors are "essentially stable. The expectation is that the 'cold shutdown' of all the reactors will be achieved as planned. The IAEA will continue to provide every possible assistance to Japan. Continuing full transparency on Japan's part will also be important."

Chu said nuclear power's role in the U.S. energy mix continues to grow because of climate change, increasing demand for energy, and the weak global economy. "The Fukushima disaster reminds us that nuclear safety and security require continued vigilance," he said. "All nations have a responsibility to learn from Japan's experience. In the United States, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force has completed an initial 90-day review of the agency's regulatory oversight and safety standards, given insights from Fukushima, and provided a set of recommendations to enhance reactor safety."

Chu also said the nuclear nonproliferation regime should be strengthened by making international safeguards more efficient and more effective, "and that is why we encourage all states to bring into force and fully implement comprehensive safeguards agreements along with an Additional Protocol. Only in this way will the IAEA have the authority needed to meet its verification responsibilities."

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