DUBAI/KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia - National emergency officials in the Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC) countries met on Sunday in Saudi Arabia to
discuss the risk of radiation spreading over the Gulf if Iran's Bushehr
nuclear power plant is damaged by another earthquake.
A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck close to Iran's only nuclear power station last week,
killing dozens of people but leaving the nearby plant undamaged,
according to Iranian officials and the Russian company that built it.
is no indication of any radiation leak following last week's tremor and
the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said the plant was built
to withstand much bigger quakes.
But the plant on
earthquake-prone Iran's southern coast is a growing worry for its
neighbors, because the prevailing winds of the Gulf mean that if
radiation ever does escape it would probably be blown over the Qatari
capital Doha and the main oil exporting ports of the United Arab
GCC Secretary-General, Abdulatif al-Zayani, said that
Gulf Arab states must have a joint plan to collectively deal with any
possible leak from the Iranian facility.
"The earthquake that the
Iranian city of Bushehr was subject to has raised a great deal of
concern among GCC countries and the international community of a
possible damage to the Bushehr nuclear reactor that could causing a
radioactive leak, God forbid," Zayani said at the start of the meeting
"The GCC countries have previously warned against the
danger of the nuclear reactor of Bushehr and the possible nuclear leak
and its harmful effect on the environment in the Gulf," he added.
said and the six Gulf Arab states have previously urged Tehran to
ensure its facility complies with international safety standards and
join the Convention on Nuclear Safety, but Tehran did not show any sign
it understood international concerns over its nuclear program.
is the only country operating a nuclear power plant that does not
belong to the convention, negotiated after the 1986 nuclear disaster in
Chernobyl which contaminated a wide area and made 160,000 Ukrainians
Western countries have imposed sanctions on Iran over
its wider nuclear program, which they say could include weapons. Tehran
says its program is for peaceful purposes only.
Saudi oil export
ports could be spared by prevailing winds carrying any fallout further
east over Qatari gas export facilities, UAE oil ports and big cities Abu
Dhabi and Dubai.
Most nuclear plants are designed to withstand earthquakes and shut down safely if there is a major earth movement.
March 2011 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook Japan, causing four nuclear
power plants to shutdown their 11 reactors, as designed. But a
subsequent tsunami destroyed back-up generators at one of them,
Fukushima, causing its cooling system to fail and three of the reactors
to melt down.
Iran sits on major fault lines and has suffered
several devastating earthquakes, including a 6.6-magnitude quake in 2003
which flattened the southeastern city of Bam and killed more than
The GCC countries are the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.