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"Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century"

Beijing, China

The increasing demand for energy

Global energy use will increase considerably in the decades to come. Even if a more efficient use of energy will somewhat slow the additional demand, billions of people in Asia and elsewhere in the developing world wanting a higher living standard will sustain a high demand. This calls for more energy - particularly electricity for trains, industry, light, refrigerators, washing machines, TV sets and much more. The World Energy Council forecasts that the world use of electricity will increase by 50 to 75% by 2020. It is one of the safer predictions in the energy field.

At present China uses close to 1000 kWh per person per year. In my country, Sweden, it is about 15 000, in the Republic of Korea 5000 and in Japan 7500 kWh per capita per annum. In the not so distant future per capita consumption in China and in other developing Asian countries will surely reach a level similar to present consumption in the Republic of Korea. In China, electricity generation has had an average increase of 10% a year over the last ten years and future demand in China as a whole looks set to expand at a rate of 16 GW per year.

How is this huge increase to be met? For good reasons the nuclear power option is attracting growing attention in China, and in other countries with rapidly expanding economies in East and South East Asia.

In the Republic of Korea, only one 600 MWe reactor was operating in 1980; today installed nuclear capacity is fifteen times higher. In China, the first power reactor was commissioned a few years ago. Today, three reactors are operating in China, two of them in Guangdong province. In the near future, other provinces may also want to develop nuclear power. Decisions have already been taken to construct eight reactors nationwide and four of these are presently under construction. [At Qinshan (Qinshan Phase 2), the construction of two new 600 MW(e) PWR units of Chinese design started in June 1996 with commercial operation expected by mid-2002. At Lingao close to Daya Bay civil engineering work started in 1996 for two 1000 MW(e) PWRs to be supplied under agreement with Framatome, with commercial operation scheduled in the second half of 2002.]

Agreements have been signed for four other reactors. [Two 700 MW(e) CANDU-6 reactors, supplied by AECL, will be built at Qinshan (Qinshan Phase 3). Construction should start mid-1998 and commercial operation is expected in early 2003. Two 1000 MW(e) units (WWER-1000) are to be built with a Russian supplier at Lianyungan in the province of Jiangsu.]

At the IAEA we see this ambitious nuclear programme as part of China's desire to reduce its dependence on electricity generation by fossil fuels and reduce the need for the transport by rail of vast quantities of coal, which now accounts for about 70% of China's electricity output. Nuclear power and hydro power will allow China to meet some of its growing electricity demand without pollution and without CO2 emissions, which may contribute to global warming.

The energy efficiency factor

All agree that energy and electricity should be generated and used in increasingly efficient ways. New types of light bulbs now give us the same light as older models while using drastically less electricity. We may also plan and design our future cities and houses in ways that use energy more efficiently for transportation and heating. However, the more efficient use of energy will only partially slow down the expanding use of energy. Although our light bulbs will save electricity, we shall have more lights. Similarly, although we can now drive further than before on a litre of gasoline, we have more cars. In the European Union, there is now almost one car per household. In China, the number of cars will grow dramatically in the coming years. District heating will be more efficient, but rooms will be better heated in winter and more air conditioning will be used in summer. Industrialized countries are now well equipped with refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washing machines and all the electrical devices that ease housework, but this is not the case for developing countries. As this type of equipment becomes more easily available, we can expect sharp increases in electricity demand.

The role of oil and gas

Today, oil, gas and coal - the fossil fuels - provide nearly 85% of the commercial energy that the world uses: close to 37% for oil, 25% for coal, and more than 21% for gas, with nuclear power and hydro power providing around 7% each and commercial renewables like solar, wind and biomass nearly 2.5%. [Non commercial uses of renewable energy are estimated to provide another 10% of world energy consumption]. In China, coal presently supplies 75% of energy consumption, oil about 17%, nuclear and hydro 5% and gas 2%.

With rapidly increasing demand there is no viable short-term alternative to increasing fossil fuel consumption. Energy and economic policies can at best slow down the rate of growth in the use of fossil fuels. China, for example, has a policy to reduce dependence on coal to 50% of electricity generation by 2020. But coal production may still have to double in the next fifteen years to meet booming electricity and energy demand.

It is precisely this crushing domination of fossil fuels that has led in the last thirty years to the active consideration, and increased use, of nuclear power in many countries. This same situation is now leading China, as it did her neighbours Japan and the Republic of Korea, to plan for nuclear power to provide a significant share of the electricity requirements.

Fossil fuels are relatively cheap to produce and cheap to use. It used to be said that the cheapest energy is the best energy. The price is still very important, but while the investment and operating costs of power plants remain crucial, countries are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental, health and other costs connected with energy. Use of gas is now expanding rapidly not only because the price is relatively low, but also because the burning of gas results in relatively little local pollution and in much less CO2 per energy unit produced than does oil and coal. However, oil is still unbeatable for transportation: it is safe, its delivery is simple and it provides useful energy in concentrated form, for instance to trucks and cars, permitting an average driving distance of some five hundred kilometers between refuelling stops.

One of the early worries about fossil fuels was the fact that these resources are finite. The Club of Rome and other institutions warned in the 1970s that oil and gas would soon be depleted. This worry has been voiced with less intensity as fossil fuel prices and markets have become more flexible, and as more oil, gas and coal fields are discovered and new exploitation techniques are developed. Nevertheless, there is broad understanding and agreement that, at current levels of development and use, exploitable oil and gas will last for about another two generations, while coal may last for another two centuries or so. We cannot therefore entirely ignore the resource issue in our consideration of energy policies for the future.

Fossil Fuels and the Environment

Let me focus next on the environmental dangers of continued use of fossil fuels at current or increased levels. In the 1970s and early 1980s the major environmental concerns were local and regional. They related primarily to the release of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides causing acid rains which damaged forests and lakes. This concern remains, but several techniques now fortunately exist to eliminate or drastically reduce the emission of these gases - though at considerable cost. Today's chief concern is related to CO2 emissions which, along with other so-called "greenhouse gases", such as methane from gas fields and gas pipelines, are believed to contribute to the increase in the temperature of the world's atmosphere - global warming. There is no viable technique available to remove or neutralize the CO2 which is formed in the burning of all fossil fuels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is warning that if present trends continue these CO2 emissions could by 2100 lead the average temperature of the Earth to increase by 1.5 to 3.5 degrees centigrade - possibly even causing the sea level to rise by up to one metre. For island nations and countries like Bangladesh and the Netherlands this would be a terrible prospect. However, climate change brought about by such a temperature increase would concern everyone. We all know what climate we have, we do not know what climate we might get.

There is a great difference in the CO2 emissions resulting from nuclear and fossil fuelled plants. This can be illustrated by contrasting the cases of the UK and France. In the UK, where some 49% of electricity was generated by coal in 1994, emissions of CO2 per kWh was about 0.63 kg. In France, where about 75% of electricity was generated by nuclear power that same year, the emission of CO2 per kWh was about one tenth of the UK value, or 0.064 kg. In China, I might add, it was even higher than in the UK - 0.797 kg. This was no doubt a reflection of the dominant use of coal for electricity generation in China.

It is thus clear that a greatly expanded use of nuclear power could help the world to satisfy its increasing needs for energy while restraining CO2 emissions. For further evidence we need only look back a few decades. In a speech before the Second Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Geneva last summer, Mr. Priddle, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency of the OECD, noted that "nuclear power accounted for the greater part of the lowering of carbon intensity of the energy economies of the OECD countries over the last 25 years". Why not let nuclear power continue this mission? If the fear of global warming after all were to be unfounded, nothing would have been lost by a greater use of nuclear power, as the cost of nuclear power is roughly competitive with fossil fuel alternatives. Nuclear power, in my view, is therefore truly the "no regrets" response that has been proposed to potential global warming.

The UNDP Proposal

This view of the potential role of nuclear power is not shared by all. Let me focus on a recent report by UNDP issued for the UN General Assembly Special Session on Sustainable Development next month. This report is meant to be "an important catalyst for decision-makers, policy-makers, academics, the international development community, NGOs and media". It advocates a re-orientation of the world's energy system along three main lines: (1) a more efficient use of energy; (2) an increased use of "modernized renewable sources of energy"; and (3) full use of the next generation of technologies to utilize fossil fuels.

Nuclear energy, which as I noted presently covers some 7% of the world's energy demand, or almost the same as hydro power, is essentially being written off in the proposed strategy. The report cites as reasons public concern about the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons, safety, transport and disposal of waste. This ignores the positions of a large number of governments of technologically advanced countries, which accept a continued reliance on nuclear power. It ignores as well the path chosen by countries with booming economies like China who have started on nuclear power programmes. In my assessment, it would deprive the world of a very significant source of energy with a potentially very large fuel resource base, particularly if one considers the long term possibility of fast breeder deployment. I also think it is inappropriate to brush aside a major option for long term world energy supply by referring to 'public concern' without examining whether this concern is justified. 'Public concern' undoubtedly exists about nuclear power in many countries and it has a significant effect in domestic energy policies, but is not something written in stone. It may be influenced by a variety of factors and may change within the span of a decade or less, but we are discussing energy policies for the next century.

There are certainly other electricity sources available with the potential for greater levels of exploitation. There is hydro in some countries in Africa and in Asia, but it will not add too much to the overall global energy balance. China is planning a fourfold increase in the contribution of hydro to its electricity supply by 2020. Nevertheless, by so doing it will still only preserve the present 20% share of hydropower in its electricity balance. We can also foresee in a much longer term some new emerging technologies, like fusion and hydrogen. However, fusion requires further huge investments in research that are beyond the means of individual countries. In any case, it is far away as a practical source of energy. Burning hydrogen to produce energy would be an attractive proposition for many uses, particularly for transportation, since the only waste produced is water. However, hydrogen must first be extracted (from water), which requires energy derived from other sources.

Share of renewables in the future is overestimated

So-called "renewable sources" now provide a little more than two per cent of world commercial energy. The bulk of it comes from geothermal installations, new wind and solar technologies, and biomass plantations. This share could increase, but only to a limited extent. The estimate made by the World Energy Council for new renewable supplies in the medium term is probably generous. I quote: "with adequate support, the share of new renewable energy supplies, currently only 2%, could reach 5% to 8% of increased world energy supply by 2020". I think it unlikely that in one generation new renewable supplies could contribute more to world energy supplies than nuclear or hydro are presently contributing. It is even less credible to suggest, as has been done, that renewables could contribute 80% to the energy mix - almost as much as fossil fuels are presently contributing - by the end of the next century.

It may be tempting to believe that sunshine, which is free everywhere, and wind that blows all over the world and biomass that grows freely, could provide limitless sources of energy. Regrettably, these sources upon which mankind has relied for so long to warm itself, to provide and preserve its food and to propel its sailing ships, have several inherent and severe handicaps which affect their economy and usefulness in a modern world. For one thing, solar rays and winds are intermittent, and so long as we have not found effective ways of storing electricity - better batteries - these sources cannot provide the electricity that we need around the clock - the baseload electricity.

Evolution toward higher density energy sources

The reality is that mankind has gone from the use of wood to coal, oil, gas and uranium because the higher energy concentration of these sources - their energy density - has offered economy and convenience. Sailing ships were replaced by steamers using coal-fired engines and these were replaced by oil-fired diesel engines. Nuclear power reactors have the potential to replace the diesel engines in large cargo ships not only to be used in aircraft carriers for battle service, ice-breakers for the very difficult Arctic conditions and in submarines. Why is it that we freely accept nuclear submarines and warships roaming the seas and sea lanes, but reject peaceful cargo ships relying on nuclear (powered) propulsion? Let me give you some figures which illustrate the meaning of energy density:

The low energy density of the renewable sources means that if you want significant amounts of energy (electricity) from them, you must "harvest" them over large areas - and this is expensive. It has been calculated that to achieve the electricity generating capacity of a 1000 MW(e) power plant, you would need: an area of 50 to 60 km2 to install solar cells or windmills, or an area of 3000 to 5000 km2 to grow the needed biomass.

It will not be easy - or cheap - to acquire such large areas, particularly in densely populated areas where the energy will be most needed. By contrast, you would need an area of only a few square kilometres for a nuclear reactor, including all of its fuel cycle requirements.

What I have said should not be taken as expressing a negative attitude to non-conventional and renewable sources of energy. I think there should be continued research, development and trial use of these sources. Solar energy is presently used for heating household water and for generating electricity where only small amounts are needed, as in watches or instruments, or where the alternative is no power at all, as in isolated places where the extension of power lines would be very costly. Wind and biomass also have their applications. However, we should be under no illusion that in the short or medium term these sources will bring us the huge quantities of energy that will be demanded. Despite the welcome gradual progress that has been made in the effectiveness of renewable sources, they cannot contribute more than modest shares of the world energy use in the foreseeable future.

Factors influencing the choice of the nuclear option

As I hope is clear from the foregoing, nuclear power should have a significant future in the global energy mix. Let me now discuss in some more detail some of the factors which will help or hinder the wider adoption of nuclear power.

Economic factors and growing public opposition - especially after the Chernobyl disaster - has slowed the expansion of nuclear power in many countries and led to a stagnation in the construction of nuclear plants in Western Europe and in the Americas. Slow economic growth and over capacity in the generating industry in these regions have been an additional reason which has resulted in very little major baseload construction of any kind in recent years. Construction of nuclear plants is currently continuing vigorously only in East Asia.

Despite this recent history, nuclear power remains a viable and - in my view - indispensable part of our global energy future for several reasons:

  1. The cost of energy production remains important to countries, utilities and consumers. As I have indicated, nuclear power is at present roughly on a par with coal, and in some cases can be competitive with natural gas in terms of generating costs. The large up-front investment required for nuclear plants is admittedly a drawback in capital-starved developing countries, but where governments are able to provide resources and leadership the potential long-term returns can be great. The plant is expensive to build, but the uranium fuel relatively cheap. Reactors now tend increasingly to stay in operation past the end of their depreciated economic life - 40 years or more - increasing their profitability while requiring no more investment. Moreover, the prices of fossil fuels are likely to increase over time. Nuclear generation can thus be expected to keep its competitive edge in various countries over the long run. Uranium-based fuel resources are not a problem for the foreseeable future. Also nuclear technology is relatively young, there is thus still scope for rationalization, standardization, modular construction, higher burnup, simplification - all of which will result in greater efficiency and lower cost. China's strategy for long-term standardization on an advanced PWR design should ensure that these economies are realized;
  2. Energy independence is another important factor. Not all countries have abundant energy resources - whether fossil fuels or hydropower. Nuclear fuel, on the other hand, if imported, can be stored for use over several years. Some 25 tonnes is all that is needed for one full year of operation, and the space required for its storage is insignificant. Since fuel costs represent only about one sixth of the overall cost of nuclear electricity, the cost of storing several years' worth of fuel remains very affordable. For countries without oil and gas, such as France, Japan and Republic of Korea, nuclear power offers a measure of self-reliance and immunity against international crises;

     

  3. The increasing safety and reliability of nuclear technology can be seen in the improved production figures for nuclear power plants around the world, lower doses to plant personnel and fewer unplanned outages. The availability factor for the world's nuclear power reactors is now close to 80%. Unplanned outages, on average below 5%, can be compared favourably with what is occurring at fossil fuelled plants. This makes nuclear energy an excellent candidate for baseload power generation.

     

New generations of nuclear power plants

By the end of 1996 over 8100 reactor-years of operating plant experience had been accumulated by the current nuclear energy systems of the world. New generations of nuclear power plants have been or are being developed, building upon this background of success and applying lessons learned from the experience of operating plants.

Advanced designs presently under development comprise three basic types:

About 90% of the nuclear power reactors now in operation are water-cooled, mostly light water reactors with ordinary water (LWRs), or boiling water (BWR) or pressurized water (PWR) as moderator. The rest are heavy water reactors (HWRs). While the designs of advanced LWRs (ALWRs) resemble those of their predecessors, they incorporate new passive safety systems, as well as plant simplifications. The first BWR of advanced design was connected to the Japanese grid last year.

Liquid metal-cooled fast reactors (LMFRs), or breeders, have been under development for many years. With breeding capability, fast reactors can extract up to sixty times as much energy from uranium as can thermal reactors. The successful design, construction and operation of such plants in several countries, notably France and the Russian Federation, has provided more than 200 reactor-years of experience on which to base further improvements. In the future, fast reactors may also be used to burn plutonium and other long-lived transuranic radioisotopes, allowing isolation time for high-level radioactive waste to be reduced.

The IAEA has three international working groups dealing with advanced reactor design development. They meet periodically and enable participating experts to exchange experience. The groups also advise the Agency on subjects of interest for research to be shared by interested Member States. Through its Co-ordinated Research Programmes, the Agency provides assistance to researchers in developing countries who meet periodically under the auspices of the Agency with researchers from developed countries on projects of common interest. For interested Member States, the IAEA publishes reports on the status of advanced reactor design development.

Waste Management

Nuclear power is exceptionally clean in operation. Concern is usually focused on the highly toxic and radioactive spent fuel and nuclear waste. What is characteristic of these, however, in addition to their toxicity and radioactivity, is that they are limited in volume, which facilitates waste disposal. This contrasts sharply with the waste disposal problem for fossil fuelled plants. Let me be specific:

A 1000 MW(e) coal plant with optimal pollution abatement equipment will emit into the atmosphere 900 tonnes of SO2 per year; 4500 tonnes of NOx; 1300 tonnes of particulates; and 6.5 million tonnes of CO2. Depending on the quality of the coal, up to 1 000 000 tonnes of ashes containing hundreds of tonnes of toxic heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury) will have to be disposed of.

By contrast, a nuclear plant of 1000 MW(e) capacity produces annually some 35 tonnes of highly radioactive spent fuel. If the spent fuel is reprocessed, the volume of highly radioactive waste will be about 3 m3. The entire nuclear chain supporting this 1000 MW(e) plant, from mining through operation, will generate, in addition, some 200 m3 of intermediate level waste and some 500 m3 of low level waste per year.

I have already commented on the CO2 question - linked to global warming. However, the issue of safe disposal of nuclear waste that remains radioactive for tens of thousands of years needs to be put into perspective. The argument has been made that it is irresponsible to leave any long-lived radioactive waste behind us. That argument, in my view, would apply with much greater strength to the toxic chemical residues which result from the burning of fossil fuels such as arsenic, mercury, lead and cadmium, etc. Their impact on health and safety is often more immediately drastic and they do not have half lives. They remain toxic forever.

The reality is that we must leave some waste behind us, if we want to maintain or create high living standards. The questions are rather: how do we minimize these wastes and how do we make sure that they do not cause harm. The main problem with the wastes of fossil fuels is that they are so voluminous that they cannot be taken care of. Their final disposal sites are the surface of the earth and the atmosphere we breathe! On the other hand, nuclear waste, because of its limited volume, can be put back in the crust of the Earth from where the uranium originally came. In my view we should talk not only about alternative energies, but also about 'alternative wastes'. The limited volume of nuclear wastes, I submit, is one of the greatest assets of nuclear power.

It is certainly to be hoped that future techniques will provide us with even better ways of handling, and perhaps even making use of, what today we regard as nuclear waste. We should be aware, however, that our present waste disposal concepts satisfy very high demands for safety and are vastly preferable to the ways we deal - or fail to deal - with the wastes originating from fossil fuels and other chemical and manufacturing sources.

Nuclear Safety

Fear of nuclear accidents that release radioactivity to the environment is probably at the heart of many people's sceptical attitude toward nuclear power. The Chernobyl accident eleven years ago stands as a frightening image. I would in no way want to belittle that tragic accident. Yet it must be seen in a larger perspective: the safety of nuclear power must be compared with the safety of alternative ways of generating electricity.

The largest accidents in terms of casualties in the energy field are connected with the collapse of hydro dams. Some 2500 people perished, for example, in a single dam failure in Macchu, India. There are also, as we know, severe accidents connected with the transport and storage of gas, the mining of coal and the shipping of oil. A gas pipeline explosion in Guadalajara in Mexico killed 200 people in 1992.

Getting people to accurately understand risk is not easy. We know that the risk of death is much higher if you go by car than if you fly, whether you count the risk per kilometer travelled or per trip made. Yet most people are more afraid of flying than of driving. A similar error in perception exists regarding nuclear power. The reality is that even if the Chernobyl accident is taken into account, the number of fatalities associated with electricity generation is much lower in the nuclear fuel cycle than in fossil fuel cycle.

Although we know that the risk of incidents and accidents is not zero for any form of energy generation, including nuclear, we need to be aware that most events are not very damaging. To help the nuclear power industry clarify the magnitude of events, the IAEA has introduced an International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) which grades accidents from 1 to 7 - much as seismologists grade earthquakes. We hope this scale will help the media and public to realize that most incidents are of very minor significance and result in no threat to public health.

It should also be remembered that most evolving technologies, whether boilers during the 19th century, aeroplanes in this century or nuclear plants, entail some accidents from which lessons are learned. Both the Three Mile Island accident, from which no radioactivity escaped to the environment, and the Chernobyl disaster, have led to the introduction of new safety features in nuclear reactors, in plant operating procedures and in regulations.

We must recognize that, in spite of all safety improvements introduced and all public information, only prolonged operation of civilian nuclear power without any accidents or releases of radioactivity into the environment will dispel the common misgivings about the use of nuclear power. To achieve this, nuclear power has to set its safety goals much higher than any other generating technology does. This is achievable.

There is room for some efforts on a regional basis to address specific regional needs and circumstances in the field of safety. Training, for example, might be undertaken regionally. I note that the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) is working primarily on a regional basis, with great success. Regional isolation of nuclear activities, as occurred in the sphere of the former Soviet Union, however, is a handicap in the world of nuclear safety.

We know that "an accident anywhere is an accident everywhere." The safety culture of nuclear power - like that of aviation - must be global. The norms of this culture now exist, first of all in the shape of the IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety, which entered into force last October and which requires of all parties that they observe certain basic standards, that they report on safety matters, and that they submit to peer review. There are, secondly, the non-binding but recommendatory IAEA nuclear safety standards (NUSS) which were evolved over many years. These standards are kept up to date and incorporate the experience of the entire nuclear world. While national authorities are solely responsible for the maintenance of nuclear safety, they can seek guidance and support in the standards to which all IAEA Member States using nuclear power have contributed their experience.

A third element are the services provided by international nuclear safety experts. Certainly such advisory services could be rendered on a regional - or even bilateral - basis. Nevertheless the possibility of drawing on the expertise around the world remains valuable as we can draw on the accumulated global experience.

Let me conclude my remarks on nuclear safety by reporting to you that after several years of work another important element of the international legal infrastructure related to safety is expected to emerge in modernized shape later this year. I have in mind the rules about responsibility - or liability - in the case of nuclear damage. Victims of nuclear damage - however rare they may be - should be entitled to due compensation, wherever the accident. This may now be ensured.

Strengthening safeguards

For the acceptance of civil nuclear activities and for trade in nuclear material, equipment and technology, it is important that there is assurance that the activities are not used for any military purpose. Efforts have accelerated to strengthen the safeguards system of the IAEA, spurred on by two significant and unhappy discoveries. First, we learned that Iraq, despite being a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, was developing the capacity to enrich uranium and to build a nuclear weapon. Then we learned, through the use of advanced IAEA safeguards techniques, that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had not declared all of its plutonium inventory. We don't want any more surprises. We must create greater assurance that in the future any misuse of nuclear materials will be deterred or discovered in a timely fashion. The main new features of the modernized safeguards system, now accepted by our Board of Governors in Vienna, are requirements for more information and for allowing safeguards inspectors greater access to installations. The aim of these measures is to make nuclear activities more transparent and comprehensible to the IAEA inspectors who are responsible for verifying that the nuclear activities of States are exclusively peaceful.

The ultimate objective of these efforts to strengthen safeguards has wide support. However, some governments - and parts of industry - have been concerned about the greater amount of data they will have to compile and present, and about opening up to inspection installations which may have commercial or technical secrets. We hope that these concerns will be overcome. Some States which accepted the proposed measures on a trial basis did not find them unduly onerous or cumbersome. The IAEA Secretariat certainly wants a strengthened system, but it, too, wants a system which is not too cumbersome to operate. We are convinced that confidentiality, which has not been violated in the past, will not be compromised in the future. We trust that the nuclear industry and research institutions will co-operate. After all, without the confidence that can come from effective safeguards, nuclear trade and the transfer of nuclear technology will suffer.

Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons

Lastly, let me discuss the concern that an expansion of nuclear power might lead to a further spread of nuclear weapons and to illicit trafficking in nuclear materials. These concerns should not be brushed aside. However, with the end of the Cold War and the accelerated dismantling of nuclear weapons in the USA and the Russian Federation, there is a broad, though not universal, movement away from nuclear weapons. Latin America and Africa are now nuclear-weapon-free continents and nuclear-weapon-free zones have been established in the South Pacific and, as of last year, in South East Asia. The Non-Proliferation Treaty has been extended for an indefinite period of time and a complete test ban treaty has recently been adopted by the United Nations. Tests in the Pacific and elsewhere have ceased.

The dismantling of nuclear weapons in the USA and the Russian Federation offers the challenge of managing and making peaceful use of the fissionable material from the dismantled weapons, part of it as MOX fuel for nuclear reactors. What could be more welcome than making electricity out of nuclear bombs? Converting nuclear military facilities to installations for peaceful civil activities? These efforts will require considerable investment and a serious commitment on the part of the nuclear nations. However, they will contribute to the building of a world that is more free from fear, and in which sustainable development can be pursued under safer and more peaceful conditions. This goes to the heart of the IAEA's mission.

Conclusion

If nuclear disarmament continues and detente can be developed in the Middle East, on the Indian subcontinent and the Korean peninsula, the world might be exiting from the nuclear weapons era. This would be an enormous blessing in itself. It would hopefully also make it easier to obtain public acceptance of the peaceful use of nuclear energy which would be of great benefit for its renaissance.

It certainly is not the task of the IAEA to "sell" nuclear power to anybody. All States take their own decisions, on their own responsibility. My belief is, however, that a global revival of nuclear power will occur:

Let me finally share with you the thought that if countries which have the technological capacity to do so were to increase the nuclear share in their electricity mix, this would make the growth in the use of fossil fuel in under-developed parts of the world less problematic from the global environmental point of view.

I want to end by congratulating you on the rapid development of China's nuclear programme. I am happy that China benefits from international co-operation through the IAEA and, herself, contributes to this international co-operation.

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