NAGANO (Kyodo) — International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano said Wednesday the atomic watchdog will play a “lead role” in creating a safer nuclear future, as global use of nuclear energy will likely continue for decades despite the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
In a keynote address at the U.N. Conference on Disarmament Issues which opened Wednesday in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, the IAEA director general described Japan’s worst nuclear crisis as “one of the most serious and complex disasters which human beings have ever had to deal with.”
“Despite Fukushima Daiichi, global use of nuclear power will continue to grow in the coming decades and will remain an important option for many countries,” Amano said. “Nuclear safety is the responsibility of individual states, but the IAEA will play the lead role in shaping a safer nuclear future throughout the world.”
To support efforts toward realizing a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, Amano said the IAEA is considering holding an international conference in Vienna, home of the agency, by the end of the year to verify the significance of existing zones in other parts of the world.
He later told reporters that the IAEA has received positive responses from some countries concerned.
The envisioned meeting will be separate from the one that members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty agreed on last year to convene in 2012 to discuss the Middle East initiative.
The three-day U.N. disarmament conference in Matsumoto, which has been hosted annually in Japan since 1989, is attended by about 90 participants from 24 countries, including government officials and researchers. This year’s theme is “urgent and united action towards a nuclear-weapons-free world.”
Later on Wednesday, Amano is scheduled to meet about 120 junior and senior high school students in Nagano Prefecture to discuss disarmament issues.