Greens back Trittin on nuclear phase-out

Party congress approves government position on limiting reactor lifetimes

German environment minister Jürgen Trittin has won strong backing from Green party activists for the policy agreed with senior governing coalition partner, the SPD, of seeking a phase-out of nuclear power by 2018. A Green party congress in Karlsruhe voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to accept the approach.

The development marks a climbdown for many in the party, who wanted to see much faster closure for Germany's 19 nuclear power stations. The congress called for "consensus" talks with electricity generators to be completed as quickly as possible but imposed no deadline. It underlined its demand for at least one station to be closed before the next national elections, due in 2002.

Mr Trittin reiterated that the government would press ahead with legal measures to force the phase-out if agreement could not be reached with the industry. But he counselled caution, noting that, with only 7% of the popular vote, the party had to be patient in building a majority for its views.

The party showed a similar wariness of sparking a crisis that could end its first ever taste of national power in Germany over controversial government plans to sell battle tanks to Turkey. It strongly criticised the move, but a motion calling on the party to resign if the sale went ahead was narrowly defeated.

In a related development, Mr Trittin added further to the woes of UK nuclear services firm British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) during the congress, warning that nuclear fuel reprocessing had "no long-term perspective" for Germany and that it would be phased out along with nuclear power generation. German firms account for 10-15% of long-term reprocessing contracts held by BNFL's Sellafield plant, which has recently been hit by a scandal over falsification of safety data for mixed oxide nuclear fuel rods (ENDS Daily 18 February).

Follow Up:
German Green Party, tel: +49 30 28 44 20.

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