Independent probe into Japan's nuclear crisis for global good: IAEA mission chief

08:11, May 26, 2011      

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Mike Weightman (1st L), Britain's Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and the head of a delegation of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), meets with Japan's Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto (1st R) at the foreign ministry in Tokyo May 25, 2011. A delegation from the IAEA arrived in Japan Tuesday to begin investigations at the troubled Fukushima nuclear complex through June 2, and present their findings at a meeting of ministers from IAEA member states on June 20. (Xinhua/Kenichiro Seki)

A delegation of nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency visiting Japan on a fact- finding mission to establish the cause of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis, said Wednesday that their investigations are on "behalf of the world" and will be fair and objective.

The IAEA team, comprising 20-members including atomic experts from 12 countries including the United States, China, India, Russia and South Korea, is headed by Mike Weightman, the head of Britain's Nuclear Regulation Office.

Weightman, whose team arrived in Tokyo on Monday on a 10-day visit, dispelled concerns that the group's findings may be biased as the IAEA is headed by Yukiya Amano, a Japanese national, saying that Amano's nationality is irrelevant and that his team have "no instructions from anybody."

"I am an independent person. We will come to our best judgment without fear or favor from anybody," Weightman said at a press briefing in Tokyo.

"We are gathering information. We will have more discussions over the weekend after visiting the Fukushima Daiichi plant," Weightman said following a meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano and Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto.

"Then we will seek to bring all of the information together to see what lessens we can learn on a world basis," he said.

Weightman said that cooperation with the investigation provided by the Japanese government had been excellent and that there were no concerns about issues of transparency.

"We have full cooperation and access to information," Weightman said, adding "whatever questions we ask, there are answers."

Edano pledged the government's support to the team of experts, stating that the only priority was to fully understand the nuclear crisis. Matsumoto added that Japan was committed to enhancing global nuclear safety.

"The IAEA team's visit to investigate the accident is important from the standpoint of ensuring transparency to get to the bottom of this accident," said Edano, Japan's top government spokesperson.

On Friday, the team will visit the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant that saw three of its reactors meltdown following the March 11 massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that knocked out the facilities vital cooling systems, sparking one of the world's worst-ever nuclear disasters.

The team is also slated to visit the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear complex as well as hold discussions with the owner and operator of both plants, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and local government officials and authorities.

The team will deliver the results of their investigations at an IAEA ministerial-level conference on nuclear safety in Vienna from June 20-24.

Prior to that on June 1, the team will present a draft summary of their findings to the Japanese government.

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Source: Xinhua
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