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Chinese FM official urges more global cooperation on nuclear safety

By Hou Liqiang | | Updated: 2018-03-28 19:44

A senior Foreign Ministry official called for enhanced cooperation in nuclear safety at a high-level international conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

Wang Qun, director general of the ministry's Department of Arms Control, made the appeal during the fifth Asia-Europe Meeting Seminar on Nuclear Safety, saying that "a nuclear accident anywhere has an impact everywhere".

The three-day event is being attended by almost 200 representatives from international organizations and at least 20 ASEM member states.

Wang said the nuclear industry has resumed growth momentum in recent years as it steps out of the shadow of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, and has played an increasingly significant role in ensuring energy supply, mitigating climate change and achieving sustainable development.

Yet he said both Asia and Europe face a series of nuclear safety challenges, including traditional issues stemming from natural hazards and aging facilities, as well as new risks from cyberattacks.

"National governance should always prepare for future risks," he said. "Today Asian and European countries may adopt different policies on nuclear energy, but there is unanimous consensus on enhancing nuclear safety.

"We hope this seminar will provide a platform for Asian and European countries to deepen policy exchanges and practical collaboration, making the nuclear power industry a new field of Asia-Europe cooperation, thus contributing to a New Asia Europe Partnership."

He called for nations to work together to deal with nuclear safety challenges, adding that "one country can hardly handle a nuclear accident alone".

Participants were expected to discuss opportunities and challenges in nuclear safety, nuclear power supervision, technical capability and emergency management procedures during the seminar, which is themed "Translating Commitments into Actions - Addressing Nuclear Safety Challenges in the 21st Century".

Wang said enhanced technological innovation between Asia and Europe is needed as well as wider and deeper cooperation in the nuclear power industry.

"Only when technological development stays several steps ahead of potential risks can accidents be effectively prevented," he added.

Juan Carlos Lentijo, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, agreed that the world faces many nuclear security challenges.

"Some countries are expanding the use of nuclear power, and others are introducing nuclear power," he said. "This brings more low-carbon electricity, but also presents new challenges for regulators, as well as creating more radioactive waste and spent fuel that must be managed safely."

He noted that the increasing use of nuclear technologies in agricultural, medical and industrial applications brings increased medical and occupational exposure, and heightens challenges related to the safety and security of radioactive sources.

"It's important to note that international environmental bodies also widely recognize that nuclear energy-related activities imply special challenges," said Kestutis Kudzmanas, Lithuania's ambassador-at-large for energy security policy and transport strategy. "They trigger great public concern and can lead to significant transboundary and long-range adverse environmental impacts.

"It's with true satisfaction that we note that the discussions on nuclear safety remain high on the ASEM agenda, and China has taken leadership over the continuity of this format tradition," he said.

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