Nuclear safety talks kick off

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The UN's nuclear watchdog is gearing up for its first nuclear safety talks since the accident in Japan.

Ministers are to converge tomorrow at the International Atomic Energy Agency to debate lessons learned from the disaster in March, when a tsunami and earthquake knocked out power to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant and sparked a partial meltdown and radiation leakage.

The talks in Vienna follow a period of soul-searching in the nuclear industry, which until recently was thought to be enjoying a renaissance as experienced nations planned new plants and welcomed developing nations into the fold.

Since the

, however, three nations have put an end date to their nuclear programmes and nuclear authorities in other nations, including the US, have been under increased scrutiny.

"You see some countries that are choosing not to pursue nuclear power but these are special cases," said Hamad al Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the IAEA. "I don't think there are doubts about the potential contribution of nuclear energy in the global energy mix."

The UAE is proceeding with its US$20 billion civil

, which is scheduled to have its first reactor connected to the grid in the next seven years.

Antonio Guerreiro, the Brazilian IAEA envoy who is to preside over the talks, offers a preview of the week ahead in a video

by the IAEA.