Head of nuclear watchdog offers help to Japan after accident
Jul 26, 2011, 6:16 GMT
Tokyo - The head of the international nuclear watchdog on Tuesday offered expertise on decontamination and extraction of spent fuel rods to Japan as it tries to stabilize a damaged nuclear plant.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said after meeting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan that the premier told him Japan needs a public discussion about energy policy in the wake of the nation's worst nuclear accident after Kan stressed recently the nation should phase out atomic power, the Kyodo News agency reported.
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, 250 kilometres north-east of Tokyo, has leaked radioactive substances since it was crippled by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Amano said Kan told him Japan wants to 'continue fully cooperating with the IAEA.'
The former Japanese diplomat also held talks with Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto. Japan and the IAEA will cohost an international meeting on nuclear safety in 2012.
Matsumoto called on the IAEA to provide Japan with 'technical cooperation and objective evaluation' of its work to bring an end to the nuclear crisis.
Amano told Matsumoto the IAEA welcomes completion of the first stage in a road map of operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to bring the disaster under control.
Last week, the operator was able to restore stable cooling to its crippled reactors as it had scheduled in mid-April, the government said.
The meetings came a day after Amano visited the damaged, six-reactor plant for the first time.
Amano put on a protective suit and was briefed by Masao Yoshida, chief of the plant.
The IAEA chief also visited employees and soldiers working to bring the plant under control.
Amano said his visit gave him reason to be optimistic because those at the plant devoted themselves to their work.
On Tuesday, Amano also told reporters that the IAEA plans to draw up an action plan to reinforce nuclear safety around the world by September. The plan is scheduled to be implemented from next summer and will especially address contingencies such as natural disasters and power blackouts, Amano was quoted by Kyodo as saying.
Before leaving Vienna, Amano said that the move towards denuclearization in Germany, Switzerland and Japan would not lead to a worldwide trend, the Nikkei business daily reported.
'The accident [at Fukushima] will slow the pace of the increase' in the number of nuclear reactors, Amano was quoted by the Nikkei as saying.
However, 'Nuclear reactors won't be eliminated, nor will the number be decreasing,' Amano said.
Amano's trip followed an IAEA conference in June on the safety lessons to be learned from Fukushima, at which he was tasked with an action plan on how to improve global safety standards and oversight.
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