"U.N. Atom Chief Urges Nuclear Safety Inspections, Tests"

"The U.N. nuclear chief proposed international safety checks on reactors worldwide to help prevent any repeat of Japan's atomic crisis, a plan which may face resistance from nations worried about outside involvement.

Yukiya Amano, opening a ministerial meeting on Monday aimed at improving safety after the Fukushima emergency, also called on countries to carry out risk assessments on their nuclear power plants within 18 months.

"Public confidence in the safety of nuclear power has been badly shaken," Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a speech to ministers and regulators from the U.N. body's 151 member states.

"It is imperative that the most stringent safety measures are implemented everywhere ... Countries with nuclear power should agree to systematic, periodic peer reviews by the IAEA."

Ten percent of the world's 440 reactors could be checked during a three-year period, the veteran Japanese diplomat said, suggesting power operators could help foot the bill."

Michael Shields reports for Reuters June 21, 2011.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011