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OPINION: After Fukushima, lessons to reduce nuclear terror, By Rebecca Johnson

In this short but timely op-ed piece for Kyodo News, Acronym Institute Director Rebecca Johnson reflects on what can be learned from the Japanese experience after Fukushima The original article can be read here

The scenes of devastation from last Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami are heartbreaking. Helping the survivors in the stricken communities should be the top priority. But instead, attention and resources are centered on the desperate struggle to prevent a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power reactors. When hard-headed nuclear industry officials ask us to pray, we understand that they are running out of options. Every explosion, fire and radiation release makes it harder for them to gain control. If a nuclear meltdown is avoided, and we must pray that it will be, we have to reconsider the costs and risks of the so-called ''nuclear renaissance.''

First, don't write off the Fukushima crisis as an extreme phenomenon that will never happen again. Major natural disasters may not be frequent, but they will keep happening when we least expect. Japan's nuclear technicians are more competent and safety-conscious than most, but imagine the consequences when nuclear accidents are made worse by human or technical errors. Though earthquakes -- like terrorism -- are not predictable, they are foreseeable.

Second, don't be intimidated by those who present energy options as the false choice between more nuclear power or more fossil-fuel use and long-term climate chaos. Nuclear power is not only vulnerable because of the potential for radioactive catastrophe. It is the wrong energy choice because of the related threats of nuclear weapons proliferation and the unsolved problems of nuclear waste.

Rejecting nuclear power will not mean freezing in the dark while the planet heats up. Safeguarding our planetary environment requires that we reduce our dependency on both nuclear and fossil fuels. By transforming how we approach and structure our local and national production and use of energy, we can phase out nuclear technologies and meet energy needs more safely and sustainably. The future lies in developing better ways to conserve and diversify energy sources, with greater emphasis on localized production. Increased investment in geothermal, wind, wave and solar technologies, for example, would be good for Japan's economy as well as environment, industry and future security.

Our hearts reach out as you mourn and rebuild. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we supported Japan's calls to abolish nuclear weapons. After Fukushima, let's work together to ensure that a natural disaster can never again create nuclear terror.

(Rebecca Johnson is the executive director and co-founder of the London-based Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, and the author of numerous reports and articles on nuclear and international security issues.)

Read the original article here

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