Amano: Nuclear power safer than before 3/11

Kyodo

The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog says nuclear power is safer than before the 2011 meltdown crisis started at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant, now that countries have upped preparedness for natural disasters.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement to a U.N. General Assembly meeting Monday that “measures have been taken to improve protection against extreme hazards such as earthquakes and tsunami.”

Amano said the IAEA projects a steady increase in nuclear power plants in the next 20 years, with China, India, South Korea and Russia having planned “significant expansions” of their atomic programs.

On North Korea’s nuclear arms program, the IAEA chief said he remains “seriously concerned” and called Pyongyang’s statements about uranium enrichment activities “deeply troubling.

Pyongyang’s delegation criticized the IAEA as siding with “the U.S. hostilities toward” North Korea and “following blindly” U.S. policy against the North.

It said North Korea, “as everybody knows, has emerged as a full-fledged . . . nuclear weapon state.”