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Foreign Ministers Agree on Global Nuclear Stress Tests


France's Ecology, Transport and Housing Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (L) visits the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission CEA in Gif-sur-Yvette near Paris, June 7, 2011

France's Ecology, Transport and Housing Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (L) visits the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission CEA in Gif-sur-Yvette near Paris, June 7, 2011

Officials from around the world have agreed to push for stress tests on their nations' nuclear power plants to prevent an accident similar to the one at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.

The decision Tuesday is part of an international movement toward raising safety standards at nuclear power stations across the globe, after the Japanese plant failed to withstand a record earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The natural disasters overwhelmed the Fukushima plant's ability to cool its reactors, which eventually melted down, releasing radioactive material into the air, ground and water.

Ministers from 33 countries meeting Tuesday in Paris also agreed that the industry and governments need to establish a more coordinated response to nuclear crises.

France's ecology minister, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, said the world could no longer think the way it did about nuclear power prior to the Fukushima disaster.

But while Germany and Switzerland have been discussing closing down all their nuclear power stations, several developing countries, such as India, argue that nuclear power is their only practical alternative.

Decisions made at the Paris gathering are to be discussed later this month, June 20-24, at an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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