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Merkel calls for global nuclear reactor tests

The Local · 26 May 2011, 12:30

Published: 26 May 2011 12:30 GMT+02:00

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As Merkel prepares for a Group of Eight summit in Deauville, France, on Thursday and Friday, she told the German parliament that such nuclear plant checks needed to extend beyond Germany and the European Union.

The demand, which continues Merkel’s dramatic about-face on nuclear power in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, may get a cool reception from other leading industrial nations relying on atomic energy.

Her previous pressing of European neighbours on nuclear safety has raised hackles. But the EU agreed on Wednesday to carry out such “stress tests,” which put facilities through a range of simulated challenges to determine how safe they are.

“We need an assessment of safety standards also at an international level,” Merkel said, insisting that the “highest standards” should be maintained through tests around the world.

Germany also wanted to become a model to the rest of the world on climate protection and producing green power.

“We want to reach the era of renewable energy more quickly,” she told the Bundestag.

Also in her address to parliament, Merkel vowed economic assistance to the fragile democratic uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. A financial package to support the so-called “Arab Spring” is set to be top of the agenda for the Deauville summit.

Help needed to come quickly “because time counts in this region,” Merkel told parliament. There was a “historic European responsibility” to stand by the side of people who had taken to the streets to fight for their freedom and democratic rights, she said.

The developments that started in Tunisia and spread to Egypt but stalled in Yemen and led to brutal crackdowns in Bahrain and Syria, as well as outright civil war in Libya, were “a historic opportunity,” she said.

There needed to be a “partnership for jobs,” she said, given that lack of employment opportunities could be a major sticking point for the futures of Egyptians and Tunisians. Germany and German business should help with job creation and introduce 10,000 extra traineeships in Egypt, she said.

She also promised Tunisians help with training and support for small and medium-sized businesses.

These programmes could be financed with €300 million over the next four years, she said. The government would also commit €30 million this year to support democratic transitions and make available an additional €100 million next year.

Story continues below…

Regarding the brutal crackdown by the Syrian regime against the uprising there, Merkel said that “only through crude violence against their own people” had the government of Bashar al-Assad held onto power. The country was a “huge problem case and therefore we should do all we can to condemn the violence and condemn it very clearly.”

The events in the Arab world are expected to be top of the agenda for the G8 meeting. The question of who will replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn - facing rape charges in New York - as head of the IMF is not officially on the agenda. But it is expected to be the subject of much private discussion between leaders, especially as host country France’s Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is the frontrunner.

As well as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel will strive to hammer out global policy with US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:43 May 26, 2011 by Kayak
No German leader is ever taken seriously until they invade Poland. For those of you who didn't get it, the previous sentence was meant as a joke. Unfortunately Angie isn't jok'n while the world laughs at her!
14:15 May 26, 2011 by Loth
The stress tests are a good idea. But in Japan it was more the location of where the plants were put. I don't understand why earthquakes were not taken into consideration when deciding where to build.
14:48 May 26, 2011 by cobalisk
Some jokes are simply not funny, others are crude or otherwise not fit for public spaces.

Loth: Japan did take into account Earthquakes regarding their nuclear power plants.

A simplified analysis of Fukishima should be avoided. The plant was designed to withstand a 8.3 earthquake and a 18meter high tsunami.

What occurred was a 9.0 earthquake and a 46meter high tsunami, two events that almost nothing can withstand.

This underscores the need and the importance of stress tests, Japan had not had events of this magnitudes for hundreds of years. People blaming them for being stupid are either ill informed or making absurd claims, the engineers simply never imagined this happening. This is why nuclear power is not cheap or practical, when the unexpected or unimagined happens the results are often catastrophic.
15:58 May 26, 2011 by michael4096
"This is why nuclear power is not cheap or practical, when the unexpected or unimagined happens the results are often catastrophic."

You spoilt an otherwise good post.

What was 'catastrophic' about Fukushima?

- total fatalities 0 (not counting those drowned by the wave)

- total seriously injured 0

- total slightly injured 0

- total with radiation poisoning 0

- total with any long term heath effects is not really known but estimated at >50% chance of 0

Now compare with a non-'catastrophic' year for all replacement energies. Choose your own source, or try...


I am not a fan of ignoring problems and I agree that nuclear standards should be continuously revisited with experience such as Japan's. And, I also believe that real cost analysis should be done planning any power upgrade plans - for example, comparing a possible nuclear 'catastrophe' in Germany with the environmental cost of their replacement CO2 dumping gas power stations.
20:48 May 26, 2011 by neunElf
Translating Merkelspeak;

We cannot allow other nations to gain a competitive advantage because of our stupidity.

You must choose fear over rational thought.
06:08 May 27, 2011 by DOZ
Wake up Merkel. Please. Canada and the USA continue to Pollute the Planet with no concern for the rest of the World. Where do you think all that Poison from the Tar-Sands Project goes. Into the Rivers and into the Ocean. Canada along with the Bronze American Woman especially is preaching that Global Pollution has no cause in Climate change and the Gangsta Canadians are turning into Neo-Right Wing Fanatics so they can have an Elected-Party that will waste no Tax $$$ on Environmental Issues.
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