Former UN nuclear monitor and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei expects growth in nuclear energy -- particularly in emerging economies -- despite the Fukushima disaster caused by Japan's March tsunami.
"There will be, in the short term, a slowdown in some countries. But others like France, India or China (won't see) an impact on their (nuclear) programs," he told the Wall Street Journal on Monday.
The growth will be driven by mounting demand for energy in fast-growing economies, ElBaradei said, citing a US government report predicting 87 per cent growth in electricity generation by 2035.
"You can see that a lot of the large emerging economies are looking seriously at already expanding their use of nuclear energy," he told the Journal.
"For example, China and India are expanding by five to eight times their use of nuclear energy by 2020 or 2022. Brazil is expanding its nuclear power program. South Africa is looking seriously to do so," he said.
"All these large emerging countries, with large populations and development challenges, have to rely on nuclear energy. They have no other option. Some of them don't even have fossil fuel like China; even then they would face huge climate-change issues."
The former International Atomic Energy Agency chief said, however, that greater steps should be taken to insure the safety of nuclear facilities, including "mandatory peer review ... both civilian and military."
The 11 March earthquake triggered a tsunami that tore into Japan's northeast coast, leaving 20,000 people dead or missing and causing meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The release of radiation forced the evacuation of tens of thousands in the world's worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
ElBaradei, a veteran diplomat who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work at the nuclear watchdog, is seen as a potential presidential candidate in Egypt following the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak.