Merkel wants nuclear exit "with a sense of proportion"

14:31, March 18, 2011      

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a point during her speech at the German lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, March 17, 2011. Merkel said on Thursday she will present a clear timeline for a faster shift in policy towards renewable energy sources in the light of the Japanese nuclear crisis. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her recent moves to phase out nuclear power Thursday, telling parliament Germany could not give up nuclear energy immediately but a withdrawal policy "with a sense of proportion" had became imperative.

Merkel addressed lawmakers on her government's nuclear policy after Japan's post-quake nuclear crisis escalated dramatically in the past three days. Several explosions and fires in the Fukuyuma nuclear power plant has raised fears of a meltdown and harmful radiation pollution.

"If a highly developed country like Japan can see the impossible become possible, then that changes the situation," Merkel said.

However, the chancellor stressed that her government wanted to keep nuclear power as "a bridge technology" on the road to developing eco-energy.

Germany could not immediately give up nuclear power because the country had to maintain a steady energy supply for its people, the Chancellor said. Moreover, Germany's nuclear power plants were "among the world's safest."

"What we need is an exit with a sense of proportion," she repeated several times during the speech.

The chancellor urged an acceleration of grid expansion for renewable energy and hoped that Germany would "reach the age of renewable energy as soon as possible."

Since Monday, Merkel's government has decided to suspend the nuclear plant life-extension program for three months and then to temporarily shut down seven pre-1980 nuclear power plants during the moratorium.

Merkel said these moves were conducted "under a new situation" and protected by her country's atomic energy laws. New legislation, as some politicians called for, was not needed, she said.

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