China says IAEA's monitoring of Japan nuclear water discharge not independent

China on Tuesday condemned what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called its "independent" monitoring of Japan's discharge of nuclear-contaminated water, saying it's neither international nor independent.

The IAEA said a few days ago on its website that it conducted the first independent sampling and analysis of seawater near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station since discharge of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water started, and confirms that the tritium levels are below Japan's operational limit. 

Meanwhile, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said that the IAEA is an international organization with the mission to monitor Japan's ocean discharge, and for other countries to join the monitoring is like asking the IAEA to do the inspection in Iran with a group of countries.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular press briefing that the IAEA Secretariat's so-called monitoring is neither mandated by the body's Board of Governors nor fully discussed by member states, which is merely the Secretariat's technical consulting and support for Japan, and is neither international nor independent.

Noting Japan's discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean is an unprecedented move that bears on other countries' major interest and concern, Mao said that a total of 7,800 tonnes of nuclear-contaminated water has been dumped into the ocean, and yet the international community still hasn't been informed of the IAEA Secretariat's specific monitoring arrangements.

The world calls for an international monitoring arrangement that has the full and substantive participation of Japan's neighbors and other stakeholders and will remain effective over the long run as well as a detailed monitoring plan that covers such aspects as the categories of radionuclides, the frequency, the locations, the scope, and the reporting, she said, urging Japan and the IAEA Secretariat to respond to these issues in a serious and responsible manner.

Mao noted that no monitoring could be read as an endorsement of Japan's ocean discharge or give it any amount of legitimacy or legality sought by Japan. 

"Japan should immediately stop shifting the risks of nuclear pollution to the whole world," she added.

(Cover: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning at a regular press briefing in Beijing, China, September 12, 2023. /Chinese Foreign Ministry)

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