Parties to UN-backed pact on nuclear safety commit to review security
14 April - Parties to the United Nations-backed convention on nuclear safety today resolved to carry out safety reviews of their nuclear installations in view of the unfolding emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan, including re-examining the safety of power generation units when disaster strikes.
A the end of the 5th Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) in Vienna, delegations from 61 of the 72 countries that are Contracting Parties to the convention stressed that the learning process following the Fukushima Daiichi accident will continue as more information is gathered and analysed.
They also welcomed an initiative by Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to convene a Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in June, and pledged
their support for the meeting.
Although the CNS Contracting Parties are required to meet every three years, it was agreed that they will convene an extraordinary meeting next year to analyse the Fukushima Daiichi emergency, which was triggered by the massive earthquake and enormous tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March.
The review meeting's conclusions also included detailed technical discussions on enhancing culture of safety culture; overcoming challenges in recruiting a new generation of nuclear professionals; managing ageing nuclear facilities and safely extending their lifetimes; nuclear power plant designs; situating new plants; periodic safety reviews; countries new to nuclear power; international cooperation; as well as networking on emergency management and operating experience.
The 10-day conference also discussed country reports on nuclear safety that every contracting party is obliged to submit. All countries with operating nuclear power plants are among the CNS' contracting parties.
The convention, which entered into force on 24 October 1996, was designed to enhance nuclear safety. It aims to achieve and maintain high levels of nuclear safety worldwide, establish and maintain effective defences in nuclear installations against potential radiological hazards, and to prevent accidents having radiological consequences.
The convention does not compel parties to adhere to certain safety standards, but is, instead, based on their common interest to achieve higher levels of safety.
The IAEA is the depositary of the convention and its role is to provide the secretariat for Review Meetings by convening, preparing and servicing them, as well as transmitting relevant information to the contracting parties.