Safer nuclear energy

Updated: 2012-03-26 15:29

(China Daily)

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The second Nuclear Security Summit, which opened on Monday in Seoul, should be an occasion to consolidate consensus on nuclear security among members of the international community. It should also prompt countries in the world to take concrete steps to enhance international cooperation on nuclear safety.

President Hu Jintao will elaborate on China's nuclear security policies and efforts toward improving safety at the summit. The Chinese government attaches great importance to nuclear safety and has strictly fulfilled its international responsibilities, while continually bolstering its nuclear safety capacity and actively participating in global cooperation on this issue.

The two-day event is being held two weeks after the first anniversary of Japan's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011, which led to meltdowns in reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. One year on, and the country is still reeling from the aftermaths of the triple disasters.

The Fukushima nuclear crisis was the world's worst nuclear accident since the disaster at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union in 1986 and is a reminder that nuclear energy is a double-edged sword.

Since the Fukushima nuclear accident, countries with nuclear facilities have heightened their vigilance, stepped up disaster-resistance measures and exercised extreme caution in planning new nuclear plants. Some have resolved to abandon nuclear power.

However, there is no denying the fact that nuclear power contributes to easing the global energy shortage. Statistics from the World Nuclear Association indicate there are 443 nuclear reactors operating worldwide, with another 62 under construction and hundreds more on order or being proposed.

At the same time, greater efforts need to be taken to ensure the security of nuclear and radiological materials to prevent them from getting into the hands of terrorists. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency there were more than 2,100 incidents involving the loss, theft or unauthorized possession of nuclear and radioactive materials from 1993 to 2011.

It is hoped the theme of this year summit, strengthening the security of nuclear material and nuclear facilities, will help mobilize more international support and action to address these urgent issues.