Statement by Mr. Sergey Kononuchenko, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Round Table
I would like to begin with expressing appreciation to the Republic of Belarus for organizing this event, as well as for its consistent efforts to keep the Chernobyl cooperation on the forefront of the UN development agenda. As a member of Troika, we fully support these endeavors.
Last year marked the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl. For three decades, the international community has been providing joint, targeted and comprehensive response to overcome the consequences of the breakdown. We’ve all learned our lessons from the incident and attached significant efforts to ensure that Chernobyl effects are properly mitigated and people affected receive the international support they need.
We were encouraged to see that the recent UNGA resolution on persistent legacy of Chernobyl was adopted unanimously with dozens of states joining as cosponsors, including the Russian Federation. That clearly indicates the commitment of international community to the restoration of affected territories in line with the Minsk ministerial declaration of April 2016, and in this sense the resolution lays the foundation for a new period of Chernobyl cooperation that would succeed the 2006-2016 Decade of action.
The Russian Federation stands ready to extend participation in the activities on Chernobyl restoration. Being actively engaged in targeted projects implemented in the affected territories, we stand ready to further utilize our science and technological potential for the sake of overcoming the long-term consequences of the breakdown under the able leadership of UNDP.
We join others in commending implementing partners for the timely completion of the first phase of the ‘Shelter’ project. The Russian Federation contributes 5 million Euro for the realization of the project in 2017 and looks forward to successful completion of the second phase of this ambitious project.
Significant results were also achieved in the Russian Federation. Following years of decontamination activities, several Chernobyl-affected zones in our country changed their status back to normal, allowing inter alia full-scale agricultural production. The Government’s policy is now aimed at accumulation of investments in the development of these territories to overcome the losses occurred due to previous constrains as well as to integrate these territories in the national economy. That fully corresponds to the goals of the Minsk declaration and provides a good basis for international experience-sharing.
Given the comprehensive theme of today’s roundtable, I would also like to touch upon the issue, which is often raised during deliberations on Chernobyl’s aftermath – it’s the future of nuclear energy and its safety.
The events of 1986 gave impetus to a series of scientific studies and the development of practical solutions aimed at enhancing the safety of nuclear objects. Since then a lot has been achieved to safeguard the atomic energy as a working and sustainable option for the diversification of energy mix, which effectiveness and reliability still far exceeds the available alternative energy solutions.
Therefore, we persistently advocate for further consolidation of scientific knowledge and sharing of best practices in nuclear safety under the post-2016 Chernobyl cooperation. We are pleased to recognize that these issues were given due consideration during the Disaster Risk Conference in Sendai, which for the first time addressed the need to prevent man-made disasters. Herewith, I would like to specifically commend our colleagues from Belarus for arranging a side-event at the Sendai Conference dedicated to prevention measures at the nuclear power plants based on the lessons learned from Chernobyl and Fukushima. The deliberations, we had back then, clearly indicated that professionals operating on the power plants with up-to-date safety measures in place, feel safe, and the potential risks are minimized.
Another aspect of nuclear power, which raises lots of uneasy discussions, is the management of nuclear wastes. And again, the solution lies mainly in the implementation of modern technologies and practices. For years of exploitation of nuclear power plants, the Russian Federation managed to elaborate a whole range of sustainable solutions for waste processing, and we remain eager to share those practices with the rest of the world. Just recently, for instance, we supported a UNDP project on rehabilitation of uranium storages in the Kirgiz Republic, which was implemented in partnership with the Russian atomic agency – ROSATOM.
So, like I said, there are issues in relation to nuclear energy, which need to be raised and thoroughly discussed. That would guarantee that the decisions taken are well informed and possible concerns are properly addressed. We are open to such dialogue – both under the umbrella of Chernobyl cooperation and at large.
To conclude, I would like to pay tribute to hundreds of thousands of Chernobyl liquidators, who gave up their lives and well-being for the for the sake of future generations. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary, our Government has organized a series of commemoration events, including exhibitions and documentaries across the country. The scale and outreach of these events, as well as the public interest they accumulated, shows that the heroic deed of those people is not forgotten. We will make all possible efforts to make sure that those affected by Chernobyl continue to enjoy social protection policies and benefits under the federal programs implemented across the Russian Federation.
And finally, I would like to express appreciation to UNDP and personally to its previous Administrator Ms.Helen Clarke for her distinguishable efforts to keep the high profile of the Chernobyl dossier. We hope that the new Administrator would extend his support to Chernobyl cooperation, taking into account its essential meaning for the sustainable development of the affected countries.
I thank you.