UN chief warns of nuclear accidents
The world must prepare for more nuclear accidents on the scale of Chernobyl and Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, the head of the UN has warned.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and others portrayed the growth of nuclear power plants as inevitable in an energy-hungry world as they spoke at a Kiev conference commemorating the explosion of a reactor at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear reactor 25 years ago.
"To many, nuclear energy looks to be a relatively clean and logical choice in an era of increasing resource scarcity. Yet the record requires us to ask painful questions: have we correctly calculated its risks and costs? Are we doing all we can to keep the world's people safe?" Mr Ban said.
"The unfortunate truth is that we are likely to see more such disasters."
During a brief visit to the explosion site 60 miles north of the Ukrainian capital earlier in the day, Mr Ban proposed a strategy for improving nuclear energy security worldwide, including strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency and devoting more attention to "the new nexus between natural disasters and nuclear safety".
The ongoing crisis at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was triggered by last month's huge earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that flooded the plant. "Climate change means more incidents of freak weather," Mr Ban said. "Our vulnerability will only grow."
Mr Ban told an audience at Kiev's International Relations Institute that world leaders must devote serious attention to nuclear safety and preparations against natural disasters.
The UN leader said he is calling a summit-level meeting on nuclear safety to be held in September in Geneva.
He told the audience: "Nuclear safety is our common goal, our common responsibility. We have to think very seriously how we can strengthen our nuclear safety."
He said it is the responsibility of all government leaders to ensure the strongest possible safety and preparedness against such disasters.