Time to rethink global nuclear safety regime: U.N.

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 25, 2011 12:13 PM

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - It is time to reassess the international nuclear safety regime in the wake of the crisis in Japan where an earthquake and tsunami crippled an aging atomic power station, the U.N. chief said on Friday.

"The situation in Japan has ... given rise to calls to reassess the international emergency response framework and the nuclear safety regime," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. "I support these calls."

Ban's call for a global reassessment of nuclear safety comes after Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan made his first public statement on the crisis in a week, saying the situation at the Fukushima nuclear complex north of Tokyo was "nowhere near" being resolved.

Ban convened a high-level meeting at U.N. headquarters on Friday to "take stock of the international response to the latest developments" at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where workers are struggling to cool damaged reactors and prevent the further release of radiation.

Among those who participated was Yukio Amano, head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, he said.

Ban said he was encouraging countries "to consider lessons learned and to adopt appropriate measures in an innovative way to strengthen the nuclear safety regime."

They should also "ensure that the highest possible standards are implemented to safeguard health, food supply and the environment as well as reviewing the disaster risk reduction framework."

The crisis at Fukushima has prompted a number of countries to reassess their national nuclear energy policies.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Eric Beech)