15 December 2012
Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety
Statement by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Prime Minister Noda,
Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba,
Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Ongkili,
Distinguished Ministers and delegates:
It is an honour for me to represent today the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. The Secretary-General attaches particular importance to the issue of nuclear safety and it is with pleasure that I deliver his message to you on this important occasion.
The message goes as follows:
“I welcome this gathering of ministers in Fukushima to discuss the critical issue of nuclear safety. I thank the government of Japan for hosting, together with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
You have an important opportunity to share knowledge and lessons learned, and to review progress made in strengthening nuclear safety following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant on 11 March last year.
High-level attention to the issue of nuclear safety is essential. At the same time, nuclear safety must become an integral part of the culture in those countries that pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
I commend the IAEA for cooperating with Japan to address radiation remediation and human health while leading efforts to improve nuclear safety worldwide.
This is a high priority for me. Following the Fukushima disaster, I convened a High-level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security. Participants emphasized strong support for the IAEA and recognized that nuclear safety cannot be effectively dealt with in isolation from nuclear security, non-proliferation and disarmament.
Since then, I have sought to raise awareness about the nexus between nuclear safety and security. I am pleased that the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit recognized that these twin objectives must be pursued in a synergistic manner.
To maintain the momentum, earlier this year I convened a High-Level Meeting on Countering Nuclear Terrorism with a Specific Focus on Strengthening the Legal Framework. Member States used the occasion to build support for new ways to ensure the effective implementation of key instruments, particularly the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
Looking more broadly to the question of nuclear security, my five-point nuclear disarmament proposal emphasizes the importance of strengthening controls over nuclear materials, including those used for peaceful purposes, and notes that the fate of the nuclear fuel cycle will shape prospects for disarmament.
I well remember my visit to Fukushima just months after the disaster. The clean-up and recovery efforts were impressive, but what inspired me most was the spirit of the survivors. More than attention to their own plight, they urged me to bring a message to the international community: that the disaster they endured should never again befall another community.
I have pledged to do everything possible to spread this message and realize this aspiration. In this spirit, I wish you a most successful meeting.”
That was the end of the Secretary-General’s message.
Allow me to add a few words in my capacity as Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament – the world’s only standing negotiating body on nuclear disarmament. Through the focus on nuclear safety, the discussions here highlight the need for greater efforts to achieve a world without nuclear dangers, through effective and appropriate safety measures and through multilateral disarmament. It is my hope that the exchanges will help to provide further impetus to overcome the long-standing impasse in multilateral disarmament. This is urgently needed for a safer and more secure world for all. We cannot address nuclear safety and nuclear security in isolation.
This Ministerial Conference also touches a personal note. As a national of Kazakhstan, where 456 nuclear tests of atomic and thermonuclear devices were conducted over 40 years, I have seen first-hand the devastating humanitarian consequences of inadequate nuclear safety. Nuclear hazards respect no boundaries and the human cost of ineffective nuclear safety transcends generations. As early as in 1991, President Nursultan Nazarbeyev signed a decree to close down the Semipalatinsk test site and decided to join without preconditions the Non-Proliferation Treaty. As Foreign Minister of my country, I had the privilege of signing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia.
Similarly, the continuous strong efforts of the Japanese Government and people have encouraged and inspired people across the world to mobilize to confront nuclear dangers, wherever they occur. I have no doubt that this Ministerial Conference will do the same.
I join the Secretary-General in saluting the courage and fortitude of the people of Japan in responding to the consequences of the earthquake, tsunami and accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and in extending my best wishes for a successful meeting.
Thank you very much.