April 15, 2013

GCC alert over radiation fears


Riyadh, Apr 15: The GCC yesterday expressed deep concerns over the possible radiation leaks following an earthquake in the area and called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to rush inspectors to check the vulnerability of the Bushehr nuclear plant.

“The GCC has asked the IAEA to send a special technical team to inspect the plant and investigate potential damage,” GCC chief Abdullatif Al-Zayani said.

Iran is the only country operating a nuclear power plant that does not belong to the international convention, negotiated after the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, which contaminated a wide area and made 160,000 Ukrainians homeless.

The meeting was called to discuss the risk of radiation spreading over the Gulf if Iran’s nuclear power plant is damaged by another earthquake or by any other natural or unnatural occurrence.

The nuclear plant on earthquake-prone Iran’s southern coast is a major risk for the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which can be the first victims of any radiation depending on the direction of the wind.

Al-Zayani urged Tehran to maintain full transparency in its nuclear file, join the agreement on nuclear safety and enforce maximum safety standards in its facilities.

He added that Tehran has not been complying with the nuclear safety guidelines. Al-Zayani said that “the Gulf states must have a joint plan to collectively deal with any possible leak from the Iranian facility.”

He said the Gulf states have previously urged Tehran to ensure that its facility complies with international safety standards and join the Convention on Nuclear Safety, but Tehran did not pay any attention.

The GCC officials reviewed the emergency plans of the individual member states. Gulf states are also working to establish a center to monitor nuclear radiation. This is in addition to the rapid deployment team created by the GCC to face repercussions of a possible accident at Bushehr plant, which is located just across the Gulf waters.

A report by the Geneva-based Euro-Arab Environment Organization published recently warned that the GCC states could be the first victims of any nuclear radiation from the Iranian plant.

In the event of any radiation leak, “Saudi Arabia and Kuwait can be hit first in case the wind is blowing from north to the south,” said the report.

It said that although the nuclear plant is located on Iranian territory, it is estimated that around 10 percent of that country’s population could be affected by radiation, while 40-100 percent of the GCC population could suffer.

GCC alert over radiation fears


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