IAEA General Conference Concludes with Support for Japan’s Treated Water Discharge

Reuters file photo
U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi attends a press conference during the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors meeting in Vienna on Sept. 11.

VIENNA — The annual general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency held in Austria’s capital concluded in the early hours of Saturday. The only country who criticized the ocean discharge of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was China, while many countries showed understanding and expressed support for Japan’s efforts.

The meeting is the first annual IAEA General Conference to be held since the water discharge started. On Sept. 25, the first day of the conference, China criticized the water release, referring to the treated water as “nuclear-contaminated water.” Japan’s Minister for Science and Technology Policy, Sanae Takaichi, countered the remarks. Officials from the Japan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry described China’s stance as “criticism for the sake of criticism.”

During the three-day general debate, only China criticized Japan’s efforts and the discharge of treated water as even Russia, which is considering import restrictions on Japanese seafood in line with China’s stance, did not mention this in the discussions, highlighting China’s isolation. Also, the only country to express concern about the treated water discharge was Syria.

On the other hand, 13 countries including Germany, Italy, Australia and Malaysia praised the IAEA’s monitoring system and Japan’s efforts in information disclosure.

A resolution condemning North Korea’s nuclear development, co-sponsored by countries including Japan, the United States and South Korea, was unanimously adopted Friday.

The reappointment of Rafael Grossi as the Director General was also officially recognized at the meeting. His second four-year term will start in December.