Japan’s Nuclear Issues: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 3/14/2011

By Kristina

Mar 14, 2011 3:30pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

Greg Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission joined White House press secretary Jay Carney at the White House press briefing today  to speak about the nuclear issues involved in the aftermath of the disaster in Japan.

MILLER: You just talked about how the high — there are high standards (for nuclear power plants)  for here in the United States domestically.  What are the differences, in safety terms, between what Japan has and what the United States does have?

JACZKO:  Well, right now, as I said, our focus is always on keeping the nuclear power plants in this country secure.  We are also putting a strong focus right now on providing technical expertise to the Japanese, as they requested.  Questions about exactly the differences and what changes we might want to consider and look at in this country — something we'll deal with down the road. But bottom line, right now, we believe that the plants in this country continue to be designed to a very high standard for seismic- and tsunami-type events.

MILLER:  There's already been calls — this might be more for Jay, but there are already calls for moratoriums on — in the United States.  For example, Congressman Markey called for that.  Is — does the president know about these calls or changes in the U.S.'s handling of this issue?  And you said you were reviewing, but what is the timeline for that?  This is obviously something that Americans are concerned about.

JACZKO:  Well again, as an independent regulatory agency, we will always take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the safety and security of nuclear power plants in this country, but right now we believe we have a very strong program in place.  As we get more information from Japan, as this immediate crisis ultimately comes to an end, we will look at whatever information we can gain from this event and see if there are changes we need to make to our system.  I would just add as a — as a similar scenario, following the 2004 tsunami, we did review tsunami requirements for nuclear power plants and in fact went and made sure that our plants would be able to deal with that type of event.



MILLER:  Over the weekend you sent out a statement responding to the Arab League's endorsement of the no-fly zone.  But you didn't obviously indicate whether the United States supports that or not.  Knowing that all options are still on the table, isn't it approaching  a situation where it might be too little, too late in Libya to enact this no-fly zone?

CARNEY:  As you know, Sunlen, in — we have discussions going  on at the United Nations in New York regarding various options,  military options as well as non-military, but — and specifically a  no-fly-zone option.  We have, as you know, tomorrow and then Wednesday at NATO, a process by which the plans that were being reviewed and  refined that address a no-fly option will be presented to the NAC on Wednesday.  And so we are, as we have said, constantly reviewing our options, refining our options.  And this process is moving along. The situation in Libya, we — you know, we continue to condemn the use of violence against the Libyan people by the Gadhafi regime.  And we are encouraged by the international condemnation of that, and by the actions taken by the Arab League, for example; because we  believe that whatever actions we do take should be international, and  especially should represent the will of the people in the region and  the countries in the region.  And that's why the Arab League's voice on this is so important.

MILLER: Knowing that you  — could potentially be — could be moving forward on this this week, but doesn't that, if it's — there's been some voiced concern from foreign counterparts that that might nullify the goal of a no-fly zone, if it's enacted a little too late. Is there a no concern about that within the White House?

CARNEY:  Well, Sunlen, again, I would say that the — to go back to things we've talked about last week, the speed of the international reaction here has been quite remarkable, and we are not letting up on our pressure, as the president made clear on Friday. I would note that, as you probably know, Secretary Clinton is in  Paris, where she will meet with opposition leaders, Libyan opposition  leaders, as well as G-8 counterparts, to discuss some of these issues.  So we are moving with a great deal of haste and in coordination with  our international partners — again, with the kind of deliberation and  speed that the situation requires; mindful of the fact that the  decisions we're talking about here are significant ones and need to be made with everyone's eyes open to what they — what they mean and what  the goals are.  And I mean that in — with regard to a variety of possible options.

- Sunlen Miller

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