Russia talks up nuclear energy after Japan crisis

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan should not hinder the development of atomic energy, amid global concerns over the safety of nuclear facilities.

"In the nearest future, we will hand over to our partners proposals on the development of peaceful nuclear energy taking into account the Japanese tragedy," Medvedev said at a forum on China's southern Hainan island.

"Catastrophes should not stop human progress, but they should be used to make proper conclusions. That's the main thing," he told delegates at the three-day gathering in Boao, without elaborating on the nature of the proposals.

The Boao forum has brought together leaders in government, business and academia in Asia and other continents every year since 2001 to discuss pressing issues in the region and the rest of the world.

The huge quake and ensuing tsunami that hit northeast Japan on March 11 knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering explosions and fires that caused radioactive leaks.

The crisis sparked global concern about the viability of nuclear energy, and prompted some countries to carry out inspections at their atomic facilities.

Members of the UN atomic watchdog's nuclear safety convention on Thursday vowed to take "prompt action" to apply lessons learned from the Japanese disaster.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's state nuclear agency Rosatom who is currently accompanying Medvedev on his trip to China, reiterated this week that Russian nuclear technology was safe.

Armed with nuclear expertise, Russia is on the hunt for lucrative contracts to build atomic power plants.

Medvedev also told the forum that the Japanese nuclear disaster confirmed the need to establish a mechanism which would allow the Asian region to closely cooperate, exchange information and have quick response teams at the ready.

© 2011 AFP

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