Anti-nuclear activists protest in front of the Tokyo headquarters operator of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in Tokyo to mark the first anniversary of the earthquake, March 11, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)
A top industry leader on Friday defended nuclear power as the only realistic way to reduce global warming despite Japan's atomic disaster last year.
Director-general John Rich, of the World Nuclear Association (WNA), a global nuclear trade group, was speaking at an industry summit in Seoul as a small group of protesters from Asian countries rallied nearby.
Some 200 experts and leaders from 36 countries met to discuss ways to ensure safety and security of nuclear material and atomic power plants and to safeguard sensitive nuclear information from terrorists.
The meeting preceded a Nuclear Security Summit next Monday and Tuesday, also in Seoul, at which top officials from 53 nations will debate ways to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism.
Rich said nuclear power was "uniquely able to deliver on a global scale" both energy security and environmental protection.
Climate change and the danger it foretells need "nothing less than a global clean-energy revolution", he said.
"Those with a mind for real-world solutions know that this transformation can be attained only with nuclear power in a central role," he said in a keynote speech.
He urged governments to give incentives to energy companies to encourage a "generic shift to all clean-energy technologies" by penalising carbon emissions and promoting major clean-energy investment.
"In any such marketplace, nuclear power will thrive, delivering the invaluable benefit of energy and environmental security on a scale exceeding that of any other clean-energy technology," Rich said.
Luc Oursel, chief executive of the French nuclear reactor builder Areva, said while last year's disaster raised concerns about the safety of nuclear power, countries around the world have resumed reactor building.
A total of 60 nuclear power plants are currently being constructed worldwide, the WNA says.
At a nearby Seoul subway station 25 protesters from Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and elsewhere rallied to protest at nuclear power.
They chanted "No Nuclear Asia" and waved banners reading "No to nuclear power plants" and "Fukushima cries out -- Abolish nuclear plants".
The March 2011 Fukushima meltdown was the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.