U.N.'s Ban to convene nuclear safety summit in September

Reuters News
Posted: May 04, 2011 9:42 AM
U.N.'s Ban to convene nuclear safety summit in September

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday he plans to convene a summit meeting in September to discuss nuclear safety following the crisis at Japan's earthquake-damaged Fukushima plant.

Ban told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council that he had used the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine to call for improvements in nuclear safety worldwide.

"The tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has added further urgency to this issue," he said. "This is a time for real global debate on the future of nuclear energy."

"With that in mind, I will convene a high-level meeting on strengthening the international nuclear safety regime when world leaders gather in New York in September," he said, referring to the annual meeting of the General Assembly.

Japan is still struggling to control reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami last month.

Ban called for a "sharper focus on the new nexus between natural disasters and nuclear safety."

He also call for a comprehensive review of nuclear safety standards, a strengthening of the work of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, and a new cost-benefit analysis of nuclear energy.

At the site of the Chernobyl disaster, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also called for new nuclear safety rules.

On April 26, 1986, the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded and caught fire after a safety test experiment went badly wrong. The blast killed 31 people immediately and sent radiation billowing across Europe.

Many more people died later of radiation-related sicknesses such as cancer, many of them in what is today Belarus.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Eric Beech)