Countries join together in Kyiv to assure nuclear safe future, attract financing

The event was aimed at strengthening of global cooperation and capacities to prevent and mitigate nuclear accidents, the press service of the Kazakh MFA reports.

Top-level officials from states and international organisations, including President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, President of Poland Bronislav Komorowski, President of Croatia Ivo Josipović, Hungarian President Pal Schmitt, President of Switzerland Micheline Anne-Marie Calmy-Rey, Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Thomas Mirrow, Prime Ministers of France, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Azerbaijan, and top officials from China, Russia and Japan attended the gathering. Overall, representatives of 35 international delegations took part.

The conference was held to highlight and discuss the problems of the nuclear industry globally and gather financing for the continuing safety measures at Chernobyl site, following the world's worst nuclear accident which took place there in 1986. Vast areas, mainly in the three Soviet republics of of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, were contaminated by the fallout from the nuclear meltdown, and around 200,000 people were relocated after the disaster.

"It can be said without exaggeration that Chernobyl was the starting point which made the whole world  seriously rethink the issues of safe use of peaceful nuclear energy. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in the process of liquidation of the Chernobyl accident, including more than 32,000 from Kazakhstan. Many of them sacrificed their health and lives," President Nursultan Nazarbayev said addressing the conference.

"The drama of the Chernobyl still causes pain in the hearts of Kazakhstan people who are familiar with the negative consequences of nuclear radiation. The Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, the largest in the world, used to be operational on Kazakh land, and this year is the 20th anniversary since the the Semipalatinsk test site's shut down. This October Kazakhstan will host the International "Forum for Nuclear Weapons-Free World" dedicated to this important event. I launched this initiative last year at the Washington Summit. I would like to use this opportunity and invite all interested international organisations and states to take part in it," President Nazarbayev added. He went on to outline measures Kazakhstan proposes to take to improve security in the nuclear area, including a proposal to host an international nuclear fuel bank in Kazakhstan.

"In our own experience, we can see that a nuclear accident knows no boundaries. Security must be priority when using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who paid an official visit to the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Spring of 2010, said in his turn.

According to the head of the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Alexander Dikusarov, a declaration of the heads of states and governments of the high-level meeting was adopted.

"The outcome of draft of the document of the Kyiv summit contains provisions regarding the parties' cooperation in nuclear safety in order to avoid a repeat of planetary-scale technological accidents in the future," Dikusarov commented.

"The negative consequences of a nuclear accident at any atomic plant acquire a cross-border dimension. In this regard, it seems obvious that the safety of nuclear power plants and other civilian nuclear facilities should be recognised as a major component of global nuclear security. It is extremely important to develop common, extremely tough and internationally recognised standards and criteria for safety of nuclear power, without strict observance of which no nuclear power plant in the world should be allowed to operate." President Nazarbayev emphasised.

To contain the radiation, a sarcophagus was built around the Chernobyl reactor right after the accident in 1986, but it is now nearing the end of its life. At the moment, the Government of Ukraine along with the European Union and the EBRD are building a new massive shell to cover the Chernobyl's exploded reactor and the existing steel sarcophagus.

According to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, EUR 990 million is required to implement the Chernobyl Shelter project, and before the conference Ukraine was EUR 740 million short. According to Yanukovych's announcement, at this donor conference the country has collected about EUR 550 million.

"The Government of Kazakhstan has considered the appeal of the Presidents of France and Ukraine, and decided to allocate funds for the completion of international projects at the Chernobyl site,"  President Nazarbayev said in Kyiv.

The new sarcophagus structure will be the largest of its kind in the world, an arch more than 100 metres high, 250 metres wide and 160 metres long. It will be assembled away from the Chernobyl site and then placed over the dangerous area of the damaged reactor.

Concluding his speech at the summit, Nazarbayev confirmed Kazakhstan's readiness to locate the international nuclear fuel bank on its territory.