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Germany, Switzerland suspend nuclear plans

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires | 3/14/2011 12:00:00 AM |

The ongoing threat of a nuclear meltdown in Japan has resulted in the scrapping of nuclear energy plans in two key countries.

The ongoing threat of a nuclear meltdown in Japan has resulted in the scrapping of nuclear energy plans in two key countries.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany is suspending for three months a decision to extend the life of its nuclear power plants, according to an Associated Press report. Merkel's Monday statement follows opposition calls to scrap the extension altogether in the wake of explosions at a nuclear plant in Japan.

The German government last year pushed through a decision to extend the life of the country's 17 nuclear power stations by an average 12 years. A previous government decided a decade ago to shut them all by 2021.

Monday's announcement came ahead of three German state elections in the next two weeks.

In a similar development, Switzerland abruptly suspended plans to build and replace nuclear plants. Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said on Monday the suspension would affect all "blanket authorization for nuclear replacement until safety standards have been carefully reviewed and if necessary adapted."

Swiss regulatory authorities had given their stamp of approval to three sites for new nuclear power stations after the plans were submitted in 2008.

"Safety and well-being of the population have the highest priority," said Leuthard, who instructed the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate to analyze the exact cause of the accidents in Japan and draw up new or tougher safety standards "particularly in terms of seismic safety and cooling."

Leuthard said no new plants can be permitted until those experts report back. Their conclusions would apply not only to planned sites, but also existing plants.

Switzerland currently has four nuclear power plants that produce about 40 percent of the country's energy needs.

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