At UN, Lee urges nuclear energy

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At UN, Lee urges nuclear energy

NEW YORK - The international community should not be deterred from using nuclear energy despite the nuclear and political fallout from Japan’s Fukushima disaster earlier this year, President Lee Myung-bak said on Thursday, urging stronger measures to ensure its safety.

The president’s address, at a meeting on nuclear safety and security at the United Nations, came six months after the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown and marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

“The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last March dealt a hard blow to confidence in nuclear safety,” Lee said in his speech, delivered in Korean. “However, I do not think that this accident should be cause to renounce nuclear energy; on the contrary, this is a moment to seek ways to promote the safe use of nuclear energy based on scientific evidence.”

While nuclear energy is not the only way to solve the rapidly growing energy demands of the world, more efforts should be made to promote renewable energy, Lee said.

“Yet the use of nuclear energy is inevitable as there still remain technical and economic limits for alternative energy to meet the rapidly rising global energy demand or to tackle the problem of climate change,” he said.

Lee’s remarks confirmed Korea’s position that it will stick with its policy of nuclear energy expansion, even as many countries rethink the viability of their nuclear power plants in the aftermath of Japan’s crisis.

Korea relies heavily on nuclear power for its energy supply, currently operating 21 nuclear power plants with five more under construction. It is also an exporter of nuclear power plant technology, and Lee’s “low-carbon, green-growth” vision largely centers on the use of nuclear energy.

Calling nuclear energy “an inexpensive and clean energy source,” Lee said it could be used more widely when its safety is guaranteed.

“To this end, it is important that each country establishes a rigorous nuclear safety framework,” Lee said, showing support for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s efforts to strengthen safety measures by establishing global nuclear safety norms.

In his address, Lee also made three proposals on enhancing global nuclear safety. Lee urged each country to establish an independent safety regulatory framework, guarantee the utmost transparency to increase confidence in nuclear energy and improve regional cooperation as nuclear accidents are transnational in nature.

Lee pledged his country’s commitment to contribute to the peaceful use of nuclear energy by successfully leading next year’s Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, indicating his expectations that world leaders will reach concrete, actionable agreements on nuclear safety and security at the forum.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also spoke at the High-level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security, and two working-level sessions followed to discuss issues in greater detail, with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan co-chairing the second session.

At the meeting, Ban presented a United Nations study on the implications of the Fukushima nuclear accident, which touched on a wide range of issues including environment and health, food security and sustainable development as well as improving readiness against nuclear disasters.

On Friday, foreign ministers from around 100 countries will discuss how to enforce the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. According to the United Nations, 182 countries have signed the treaty and 155 of them have ratified it. For the treaty to go into effect, ratification is required from the so-called Annex 2 States, but China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States are the holdouts that have yet to ratify it.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [연합뉴스]

李대통령 "日원전사고, 원자력 포기 이유 안돼"

원자력안전 회담 기조연설..'대체에너지만으로 한계'
원자력안전 3대 과제 제시..'한국 원전 안전성 최고'

미국 뉴욕을 방문 중인 이명박 대통령은 22일(현지시간) "지난 3월 후쿠시마(福島) 원전사고는 원자력에 대한 신뢰에 커다란 타격을 줬지만 이번 사고가 원자력을 포기할 이유가 돼서는 안된다"고 말했다.

이 대통령은 이날 유엔본부에서 열린 유엔 원자력안전 고위급회담 기조연설을 통해 이같이 말한 뒤 "과학적 근거를 바탕으로 보다 안전하게 원자력을 이용하기 위한 방법을 모색할 때"라고 밝혔다.

그러면서 "현재까지 기술적ㆍ경제적으로 대체에너지만으로는 전 세계적인 에너지 수요증가와 기후변화 문제에 대응하는데 한계가 있으며, 그러기에 원자력의 활용은 불가피하다"고 강조했다.

이 대통령은 "각국이 철저한 원전 안전유지 체제를 갖춰야 하며 국제원자력기구(IAEA) 등을 중심으로 한 국제적 협력과 공조도 중요하다"고 역설했다.

특히 이 대통령은 원자력 안전 강화를 위해 ▲각국의 독립적인 안전규제 체제 확립 ▲원자력에 대한 신뢰 제고를 위한 철저한 투명성 확보 ▲원자력 사고에 대비한 지역적 차원의 공조 등 3대 핵심 과제를 제시했다.

이 대통령은 이를 위해 "대한민국 정부는 올해 10월 독립기관으로 대통령 지속의 '원자력안전위원회'를 출범시킬 예정"이라며 "우리는 후쿠시마 사고 이후 처음으로 국제원자력기구의 통합규제검토서비스를 검사받았다"고 밝혔다.

또 "'국제원자력안전학교'를 설립, 원자력을 시작하려는 국가들이 안전규제 인프라를 구축하고 기술적 역량을 갖출 수 있도록 관계자들을 교육하고 있으며, 일반 시민을 대상으로 '안전체험교육'도 실시하고 있다"고 말했다.

이 대통령은 "원자력 사고는 인접국가와 철저한 정보공유와 협의를 통해 신뢰를 확보해야 한다"면서 "이런 점에서 지난 5월 한중일 정상회의에서 원자력안전 강화와 재난관리를 위한 상호협력에 합의한 것은 의미가 크다"고 강조했다.

이 대통령은 "1978년 원전을 도입한 한국은 현재 21기의 원전을 운영하고 있으며 5기가 건설 중에 있다"면서 "한국은 원자력을 이용하면서 안전을 최우선시하고 있으며 세계 최저 수준의 사고ㆍ고장률을 기록하고 있다"고 말했다.

이어 "우리는 '저탄소 녹색성장' 정책에 따라 대체에너지 개발에 집중 투자하는 동시에 원자력을 적극 활용해나갈 계획"이라며 "내년 서울 핵안보 정상회의의 성공적 개최를 통해 원자력의 평화적 이용 증진에 기여할 것"이라고 덧붙였다.

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