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Statement by Dr. Zhao Xinli, Counselor of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations at the 4th Committee of the 67th Session of the General Assembly on Item 50: Effects of Atomic Radiation


Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese delegation wishes to express appreciation to the Secretary General for his efforts and contribution in the area of effects of atomic radiation and thank him for the documents submitted under this item.

Mr. Chairman,

Energy shortage and environmental factor remain major constraints to the development of mankind. As a comparatively clean, efficient and stable source of energy, nuclear energy is indispensable to many countries. On the other hand, an unexpected major nuclear incident will bring about huge and lasting political, economic and psychological impact or disaster to the surrounding area, even neighboring countries and the whole planet. The international community is called upon to establish concepts of nuclear safety based on science, build confidence, face up to the safety risk of nuclear energy, enhance the safety and reliability of nuclear energy, and promote nuclear energy safety and sustainable development with a view to benefiting the people.

At the same time, we must recognize that relatively small-scaled harm resulting from radiation often goes unnoticed, or fails to arouse enough attention. Be it in developed or developing countries, there are time and again reports of overuse of radiation in medical examination or contacts with other live bodies right after large-dosed radioactive treatment. In addition, though there is a sharp increase of various mobile sources of radiation manufactured for the purposes of medical treatment, industrial and agricultural production and scientific research, regulation and capacity building in preventing and treating radiation related injuries are far from adequate. We should make radiation more of a source of benefit to mankind and minimize its potential harm according to the basic principle of protection against radiation.

Mr. Chairman,

For the UN to play a bigger role in ensuring the safety of atomic radiation, the international community should be prompted to work in the following aspects:

First, setting safety as the top priority. Safety is the lifeline of nuclear energy. The development of nuclear energy must be carried out on the condition of ensuring environmental safety, public health and social harmony. The principle of safety as the top priority must be adhered to throughout the process of planning, construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants and in all relevant industries as well. Likewise, safety must be the primary concern in the designing, use, transportation, storing and dismantling of mobile sources of radiation.

Secondly, raising safety standards. It is necessary to raise the overall safety standards according to scientific findings for the entire life cycle of various sources of radiation. Of particular importance is to use the most advanced and mature technologies to continuously improve the safety features of nuclear power generators that are in use or under construction to make the existing generators safer. Construction of new nuclear power projects must comply with the world’s highest standards for nuclear safety and from now on, any newly built nuclear power generator must meet the third generation safety standards.

Thirdly, improving emergency planning. There should be a norm for national and regional contingency plans for nuclear injuries and nuclear incidents, especially those for major nuclear incidents with cross-country, even cross-region effects. The international community should establish and improve mechanisms for coordination and set in place standardized and uniform emergency plans that are interconnected to facilitate timely mobilization of assistance from all sides in case of nuclear disasters.

Fourthly, improving the working mechanism of the Scientific Committee. With its enlarged membership, the Scientific Committee needs to keep trying to enhance efficiency, increase regional representation, and satisfy the desire of more member states to participate in its work. The international community on its part needs to continue with its efforts to give full play to the role of the Committee, and to publicize and utilize the results of the Committee’s work.

Fifthly, carrying out radiation related psychological study. Effects of atomic radiation, especially those of major incidents like that of Fukushima, are immense, multi-dimensional and long lasting. They produce psychological shock to societies and subject direct victims to psychological gloom for a long time to come, which in turn will result in huge expenses of public resources. The authorities concerned should, before the immediate effects of a nuclear incident wear out, study in a timely manner the psychological impact of radiation on sample groups and the related effect on public resources.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese government always attaches great importance to the safety of atomic radiation and pays particular attention to safe and efficient development of nuclear energy. In the aftermath of Fukushima nuclear incident, my government has further reinforced nuclear safety and nuclear emergency preparedness. It conducted a comprehensive safety inspection on all the nuclear facilities in the country, set forth multi-dimensional training plans and put in place various forms of training models. It is particularly worth mentioning that Premier Wen Jiabao organized several executive meetings of the State Council to discuss China’s 12th Five-Year Plan for Energy Development, the Nuclear Power Safety Plan (2011-2020) and the Mid and Long Term Plan for Nuclear Power (2011-2020), which have all been adopted recently. In addition, the relevant department of the Chinese government has published the 12th Five-Year Plan for Nuclear Emergencies. China is fully engaged in international cooperation on nuclear safety. We stand ready to work with other countries, adhere to a nuclear safety concept that is scientific and rational to bolster confidence in nuclear energy development, strengthen capacity building in nuclear safety so as to full shoulder our national responsibilities in this area, and deepen international exchanges and cooperation to enhance nuclear safety at the global level.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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