(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am very pleased to be back in Belarus and to speak at the opening of AtomExpo Belarus 2016.
On my last visit, four years ago this month, I spoke at an IAEA training course on emergency response to nuclear accidents. It was just over a year after Fukushima Daiichi.
Despite that accident, global interest in nuclear power continues to grow. Many countries believe that nuclear power can help them to achieve the twin goals of increasing electricity supply, while curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Nuclear power can provide the steady supply of baseload electricity needed to power a modern economy. It is also one of the lowest emitters of carbon dioxide, when emissions through the entire life cycle are considered.
There are now 444 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries, while 64 reactors are under construction. Another 30 countries are considering introducing nuclear power.
Belarus, with two reactors under construction at the Ostrovets site, is one of the most advanced of what the IAEA calls “newcomer” countries. The IAEA has worked closely with Belarus on all aspects of this major project and will continue to offer every assistance.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Needless to say, safety is the key to the future development of nuclear power. The Fukushima Daiichi accident was a painful reminder that a terrible accident can happen anywhere, even in a developed industrial country.
Five years on, extensive improvements in safety have been put in place all over the world. I believe nuclear power is much safer than it was before the accident.
But this is no reason for complacency. Total commitment to the principle of “safety first” is a must. Nuclear safety will always be a work in progress.
Countries with nuclear power must also be open and transparent. Dialogue is essential among operators, regulators and governments, with the general public, with the IAEA, and with other countries.
Technologically, this is an exciting time for nuclear power. Remarkable research is being done on new generations of reactors which will be safer and generate less waste.
I am confident that nuclear power plants will be safer, and much more efficient, in the coming years.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude by noting that Belarus is a valuable partner of the IAEA. We work closely together not just in nuclear power, but across a broad range of peaceful nuclear applications.
I am sure that this conference will make an important contribution to helping Belarus build up its contacts and expertise in the nuclear power field.
I wish you a very successful conference and exhibition.