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IAEA, China discussing Fukushima info mechanism similar to S. Korean arrangement: Grossi

Sept. 16, 2023 - 10:10 By Yonhap
UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi attends a press conference during the International Atomic Energy Agency 's (IAEA) 35-nation Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, September 11. (Photo - Reuter)

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been in discussions with China over establishing a joint information mechanism over the water discharge from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, similar to the agency's arrangement with South Korea, according to the agency's chief.

In light of the water discharge that began late last month, South Korea and the IAEA have established the IAEA-ROK Fukushima Information Mechanism, allowing the agency to share the latest information regarding the release plan with the Seoul government and hold video conferences regularly.

ROK stands for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.

In an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency on Friday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the agency was "having discussions with China" over creating an arrangement similar to that with South Korea.

"I have offered this also to other countries in case they still harbor doubts or concerns (over safety)," Grossi told Yonhap in the video interview held online.

The director general said discussions with China, which has been vocally outspoken against Japan's water discharge, remain a "work in progress." Grossi said he has written to the Chinese foreign minister and other authorities over the matter.

He said he hoped to have meetings with high-ranking officials from China "in the next few days" and that this issue may be discussed.

Regarding the activities of South Korean experts involved in the information mechanism, Grossi explained that they are not making their own independent measurements, but mostly being briefed and studying the activities of Japanese authorities and the IAEA.

The South Korean government has reported that the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, has encountered no technical issues during the release.

Grossi, meanwhile, ruled out the possibility of South Korean experts themselves being involved and participating in the inspection along with IAEA experts.

"If we are moving into the logic that the IAEA, to be credible, needs to have experts with a South Korean passport, an Argentine passport or an American passport, then this is the end of the international controls."

He added, "We should work together but with a healthy division of labor."

Grossi said he was receiving briefings of the Fukushima operation on a daily basis and that he expects to travel to Japan early next year to see the IAEA's onsite monitoring activities and also possibly visit South Korea then. (Yonhap)