Vienna: A post-Fukushima nuclear safety plan prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency has strained traditional alliances, with the United States comfortable with a watered down plan pushed by Russia and China and objected to by Washington's normal allies. (Agencies)
Germany on Monday was unusually outspoken in expressing its unhappiness with the voluntary nature of undertakings outlined in the IAEA paper, which was authorised in June by a special conference of government ministers and other officials from the agency's 151 member nations.
The plan up for passage on Tuesday by a 35-nation IAEA board meeting "does not fully meet our expectations," Ruediger Luedeking, Germany's chief IAEA representative, told the board.
Suggesting that the text was vague and too non-binding in nature, Luedeking said Germany would have wanted a plan where member states' commitments to peer reviews and IAEA oversight of their civilian nuclear programs had been "more clearly and stringently set out."
A diplomat from another IAEA member state familiar with the issue said that several EU states beside Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were also unhappy with what they consider the lack of teeth in the "IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety."
Some of their concerns would be voiced on Tuesday, ahead of likely passage of the plan by the board by acclamation or more likely by a vote, he said, asking for anonymity because his information was privileged.
Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Argentina were chief opponents of giving the IAEA more authority to police nuclear safety, said the diplomat.
But the US was also comfortable with the decision to strip the plan of language entrusting the agency with more clout that was present in earlier drafts and leaving oversight to governments, national safety authorities and power companies, he said. Such a stance reflects Washington's strong belief in domestic regulatory bodies having full control of nuclear safety.
The six-page document outlines steps to be taken by states with civilian nuclear programs to establish weaknesses in their networks and remedy them. But these measures whether they are peer reviews, IAEA safety checks, or other proposals meant to improve nuclear safety can only be carried out "upon request" of the nation involved.
Instead of being required to do so, member states are ‘strongly encouraged to voluntarily’ open their facilities to outside checks of potential weak links that could result in a nuclear disaster.
Vienna: A post-Fukushima nuclear safety plan prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency has strained traditional alliances, with the United States comfortable with a watered down plan pushed by Russia and China and objected to by Washington's normal allies.