Vienna, 19 September 2011 – In his speech at the 55th General Conference of the IAEA that is held once every year in Vienna, Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said ”the IAEA is taking a first important, albeit tentative, step into the right direction with the action plan on more nuclear safety world-wide.”
In June this year, Spindelegger already urged at the Conference of Ministers of the IAEA “to learn the lessons of Fukushima”. In his speech today, he criticised the action plan for currently not fulfilling the expectations it sets, i.e. to be an action plan with clearly defined deadlines and objectives focusing on the explicit self-imposed obligation of the states for control and full transparency of all aspects of nuclear safety.
The Foreign Minister cautioned against letting “national pride and profit-oriented thinking” dominate the issue of safety of nuclear power plants. “Nuclear crises have no boundaries. Hence it is important that we support the work of the Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in the best possible manner.” He once again emphasised Austria’s clear-cut position in this issue: “Of course we respect the sovereign right of other states to decided on their energy mix. Austria will raise its voice and exploit all political and legal means available, however, whenever the concern is to protect the Austrian people or environment.”
Apart from issues of civil use of nuclear energy, the International Atomic Energy Agency focuses mainly on preventing the military use of nuclear programmes in individual countries. Vienna, where the IAEA has its headquarters, is the only place where scientists, engineers and inspectors from all over the world cooperate and analyse information so that no state can develop secret nuclear weapon programmes.
“Austria advocates a total abolition of nuclear weapons. The use of such weapons of mass destruction in one single region would have repercussions on the whole world. The Near and Middle East give particular cause for concern. With this in mind it is my hope that the Near-East Forum of the AIEA in Vienna this November will break up the rigid fronts and allow a constructive dialogue in this matter”, Spindelegger concluded.
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