France urges global nuclear review

France urges global nuclear review

 Group of 20 chairman Sarkozy said France wanted to host a meeting of the bloc’s nuclear officials in May to fix new norms in the wake of the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. “We must address this anomaly that there are no international safety norms for nuclear matters,” he said.

The world’s worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl in 1986 is proving hard to contain and has forced an international rethink on the benefits and safety of nuclear power. UN body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sets standards and recommendations, but they are not legally binding and safety is primarily the responsibility of member states.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan backed the French proposal for a global nuclear review. “In order to avoid recurrence of such an accident, it is our duty to accurately share with the world our experience,” Kan said at a joint news conference.

First data on the economic impact of the March 11 disaster showed manufacturing suffered its biggest drop on record this month as factories shut and supply chains were disrupted, especially in the car and technology sectors for which Japan is renowned.

France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country, is taking a lead in assisting Japan.
“Dear Japanese friends, know that in this appalling catastrophe, the world is watching and admiring you,” Sarkozy said during his visit to Tokyo.

As well as his show of solidarity by his personal presence, Paris has flown in experts from state-owned nuclear reactor maker Areva.

The US and Germany have weighed in too, offering robots to help repair the damaged nuclear plant.

Pressure has been growing on Japan to expand the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant where radiation hit 4,000 times the legal limit in the sea nearby and hindered the battle to contain the crisis.

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