IAEA chief meets South Korea’s top diplomat amid protests

This handout photo taken on July 8, 2023 and released by the South Korean Foreign Ministry via Yonhap shows International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi (L) shaking hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (R) It is shown as having happened.  ) during their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul.  - AFP
This handout photo taken on July 8, 2023 and released by the South Korean Foreign Ministry via Yonhap shows International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi (L) shaking hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (R) It is shown as having happened. ) during their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul. – AFP

Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul on Saturday.

Grossi arrived in Seoul on a three-day visit sparked by protests over Japan’s plan to release treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The IAEA director-general landed in Japan on Friday after a stay in the country during which his agency approved Tokyo’s plan to release treated water from a tsunami-hit nuclear plant into the ocean over the next few decades. AFP informed of.

Seoul conducted its own separate review of Tokyo’s plan and also concluded that while Japan would meet or exceed key international standards, the release would have “negligible consequences”.

Despite this, Grossi’s visit was met with resistance in South Korea, where public concern over the planned release has grown.

The IAEA chief said in an interview with Yonhap news agency on Saturday that there is “no disagreement” among experts involved in the review that gave the go-ahead to the decades-old project.

He said, “This is the final comprehensive report… No expert has come to me to say that they disagree on its contents.”

“It was a very intense process.”

That wasn’t enough to stop hundreds of protesters from taking to the streets in central Seoul, calling the IAEA review “inadequate” as Grossi met with Foreign Minister Park Jin.

Protesters carried several signs criticizing the IAEA and Japan’s plan, including one that read “The IAEA is not qualified to verify environmental standards”.

The IAEA report was “crafted under the influence of Japan”, claimed a demonstrator on the microphone, without giving details.

Opposition MPs have also launched a public campaign against Tokyo’s plan, with some going on hunger strike.

Grossi is expected to meet opposition lawmakers in parliament on Sunday.

About 1.33 million cubic meters of groundwater, rainwater and water used for cooling have accumulated at the Fukushima site, which is being shut down after several reactor meltdowns following the 2011 tsunami, which badly damaged the plant. Had done it.

The plant operator treats the water to remove almost all radioactive elements except tritium, and plans to dilute it before releasing it into the ocean for several decades.

Since taking power last year, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has sought to end historical bitterness with Japan over issues including wartime forced labor as he seeks closer regional security cooperation in the face of growing nuclear threats from North Korea. Are.

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