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WikiLeaks Cables: Japan Warned Of Quake Threat To Nuclear Plants

Diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks indicate Japan was warned more than two years ago that its nuclear power plants were not capable of withstanding powerful earthquakes. According to a report in The Telegraph, “an official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in December 2008 that safety rules were out of date and strong earthquakes would pose a ‘serious problem’ for nuclear power stations.”

The Telegraph’s Steven Swinford and Christopher Hope write that Japan promised at the time to improve conditions at the plants, but “will now face inevitable questions over whether it did enough.” The paper’s journalists reviewed cables that suggested Japan, one of the most seismologically active countries on Earth, was using outdated safety protocols:

A US embassy cable obtained by the WikiLeaks website and seen by The Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed expert who expressed concern that guidance on how to protect nuclear power stations from earthquakes had only been updated three times in the past 35 years.

Another cable disclosed the Japanese government had opposed a court order to shut down one of the nation’s nuclear power plants because of concerns the plant could not withstand powerful quakes.

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