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Statement by Counselor Zhao Xinli of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations at the Fourth Committee of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly on Agenda Item 50: "The Effects of Atomic Radiation"

2011-10-21 08:49

Madame Chair,

The Chinese delegation would like to thank the SG for his report in A/66/378. We are satisfied with the work of the Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation over the years and concur with its report to the current session. We appreciate the fact that the UN has increased human resources in the Secretariat of UNSCEAR.

Energy has increasingly become a major constraint to development. As an energy resource that is environment friendly, adaptable to climate change, and capable of supporting sustainable development and producing electricity in a stable and efficient manner, nuclear energy has become a pillar of the energy supply of many developed countries. However, the development of nuclear energy must be premised on safety. The Fukushima nuclear accident half a year ago has focused the attention of the world once again on nuclear safety. The international community, countries with nuclear energy technologies in particular, has the responsibility to reinforce nuclear and radiation safety in each and every stage from the exploration, processing, transportation and storage of nuclear fuel, to the operation and decommissioning of nuclear power stations, and to the disposal of radioactive waste.

It should also be clearly realized that with social development and technological progress, the demand for nuclear technology in the international community, particularly on the part of developing countries, is rapidly increasing and the use of various man-made radiation sources in industry, agriculture, medicine and scientific research is constantly on the rise. However, due to reasons such as improper operation, injuries caused by radiation occur from time to time. We should try our very best to maximum the benefit atomic radiation brings to mankind and minimize its harm. As the professional organ within the UN system charged with assessing the effect of ionizing radiation on mankind and the environment, the UNSCEAR’s task is immense and arduous.

Madame Chair,

In order to prevent harmful atomic radiation in a more scientific and effective manner and avoid unnecessary fear and panic about the development of nuclear energy, the application of nuclear technology and nuclear accidents, the UN should play a bigger role on the question of “the effects of atomic radiation” and encourage the international community to work in the following aspects:

Firstly, countries should effectively fulfill their responsibilities in the area of radiation safety. States with nuclear technologies, particularly those with advanced nuclear energy technologies, should offer effective technological guarantee for measuring and monitoring atomic radiation, providing safety and security against atomic radiation, treating victims of atomic radiation in a timely and effective manner, and safely disposing of atomic radioactive waste.

Secondly, technological standards for radiation safety should be perfected. It is necessary to formulate and improve standards for radiation measurement, radiation safety, disposal of radiation sources, and protection against atomic radiation in view of the future development of nuclear energy technology and on the basis of thorough studies.

Thirdly, international cooperation in responding to nuclear incidents should be strengthened. Since nuclear accidents cause enormous damages and affect large areas for long periods, countries where nuclear accidents occur should provide as early as possible comprehensive information about such accidents to the international community and those countries that are or might be affected, and the international community should strengthen cooperation in the evaluation of the consequences of nuclear accidents so as to minimize transboundary radiation.

Fourthly, efforts should be made to promote the R&D for safer nuclear technology. Nuclear energy, radiological diagnosis and treatment, flaw detection and other nuclear technologies are unique technologies that benefit mankind. It is the common desire and joint responsibility of mankind to use nuclear technology safely and avoid injuries from radiation. Countries should increase input in R&D to develop advanced technologies for nuclear and radiation safety, and work together to improve nuclear and radiation safety for mankind.

Fifthly, effective dissemination of scientific knowledge among the population should be carried out. With the widening application of nuclear technology and ongoing expansion of human activities, the probability of people coming into contact with sources of radiation continues to grow, hence the importance of disseminating scientific knowledge about atomic radiation. On one hand, it can help avoid radiation accidents more effectively, prepare people to take protective measures and alleviate the effect of radiation in the eventuality of accidents; on the other hand, it can help dispel unnecessary fear and panic.

Sixthly, expand the scope of studies on the effects of atomic radiation. The effects of radiation, particularly in accidents like that in Fukushima, are vast and manifold. They not only affect people physically, but also produce psychological shock to some groups of people and cast long lasting shadow on the psychology of the victims. At the same time, they are a huge drain on public resources. The international community should enhance study on the psychological effects of radiation and its effects on public resources.

Madame Chair,

China has always been committed to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and has attached great importance to the safety of atomic radiation. In the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima accident, the Chinese government launched the National Nuclear Contingency Mechanism to closely monitor and study the unfolding of the accident and actively consider and adopt responding measures. We also stepped up radiation monitoring and timely publicized information from authoritative sources to allay people’s anxiety. My government decided to organize immediately a comprehensive safety inspection in all nuclear facilities in China, reinforce safety regulation of all nuclear facilities in operation, conduct safety assessment on all nuclear power stations under construction using the most advanced standards, and suspend the review and approval of new nuclear power station projects before the adoption of the revised Nuclear Safety Plan. Right after the accident, my government, in fulfilling the obligation contained in the Convention on Assistance in the Case of Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, expressed to the Japanese government the willingness to provide assistance in radiation monitoring and medical care. We also sent experts to engage in exchanges with their counterparts from Japan and other countries regarding the Fukushima nuclear accident.

As a part of its active promotion of the safe development of nuclear energy technology, China participated in the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITRE) and worked hard for greater safety of nuclear energy technology. China is in the process of formulating and perfecting a series of laws and regulations as well as technical norms concerning atomic radiation that are suited to its own circumstances, and governmental organs such as China Atomic Energy Authority and National Nuclear Safety Administration are working incessantly to build the government’s management and regulation capacity in the aspect of radiation safety and improve radiation safety in China. China is ready to continue to work with the international community to make nuclear technology benefit mankind and protect mankind from radiological harm.

Thank you, Madame Chair.

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