Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
When I addressed the 2011 STS Forum a year ago, Japan was still dealing with the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
Now, we are well into the post-accident phase. The emphasis for the IAEA and its 155 Member States is on implementing the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, which was adopted just over a year ago.
Progress has been made in many areas. Possible safety weak points at nuclear power plants have been identified and are being addressed. These include issues such as ensuring adequate backup electrical power in case of a blackout.
The IAEA has expanded its programme of expert peer reviews. We undertook a systematic review of IAEA Safety Standards, taking into account lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. And we held a series of international expert meetings focussing on different technical issues.
A lot has been done already, but a considerable amount of work still remains to be done under the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. It is essential that all of us - Member States, the IAEA and other key stakeholders - maintain our sense of urgency and our commitment to implementing the Action Plan in full.
In December, the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, organized by the Government of Japan and the IAEA, will take place in Fukushima Prefecture. This Conference will be a good opportunity for participants from abroad to learn first-hand lessons from the accident. For Japan, it will be an excellent opportunity to understand how other countries are reacting to the accident. For the IAEA, it will be an occasion to redouble our efforts to help people in Fukushima.
A year ago, I told the STS Forum that nuclear power looked set to remain an important option for many countries, despite the Fukushima Daiichi accident. This trend has become even clearer during the past year.
The latest IAEA projection is for global nuclear power capacity to grow by nearly 25 percent from current levels to 456 gigawatts by 2030. That is the low projection. Our high projection is 740 gigawatts, which is twice current levels.
Established users such as China, India, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation are expected to remain the main centres of expansion. Many so-called "newcomer" countries continue to show keen interest in nuclear power.
As for their reasons, countries cite the need to meet their growing energy requirements, global climate change, volatile fossil fuel prices, energy security and economic competitiveness.
The Japanese government recently announced a new policy related to energy in the future. During the IAEA General Conference last month, I was asked various questions about this policy. Of course, energy policy is a matter that each sovereign state should decide on its own. However, it is also a fact that a decision by a country like Japan has global implications. Therefore, the IAEA welcomes the willingness expressed by the Japanese government to engage in dialogue with the international community on this important issue. The IAEA will follow this issue with keen interest.
I also welcome the establishment of a new independent nuclear regulatory authority in Japan. The IAEA looks forward to working closely with the new authority in further enhancing nuclear safety in Japan.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In conclusion, the Fukushima Daiichi accident was a big wake-up call on nuclear safety. A lot has been done, but more still needs to be done. We must not relax our guard.
Despite the accident, the use of nuclear power will continue to expand steadily. It is wrong to believe that the Fukushima Daiichi accident means the end of nuclear power.
Finally, international cooperation has become increasingly important to address nuclear issues in the post-accident phase. The IAEA will continue to do everything possible to help countries to use nuclear power safely, securely and sustainably.