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Dangerous Exports

DW staff (jg)
January 21, 2008

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has taken a sideswipe at France for exporting nuclear technology. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has placed the French nuclear industry at the heart of his foreign policy.

nuclear reactor
Gabriel opposes nuclear policy at home and abroadImage: AP

Gabriel said in an interview with the German newspaper Nordwest Zeitung that he was uncomfortable with plans to construct atomic plants in countries "that are hardly reputed to be repositories of stable democracy."

"Anyone who praises nuclear energy as a panacea to energy policy issues should not be surprised if there is a growing danger of the proliferation of atomic weapons," Gabriel told the paper on Monday, Jan. 21.

The minister, a member of the Social Democratic Party, said the example of Iran showed that it was not such a big step from civilian use of nuclear energy to the development of atomic bombs.

Libya's Gadhafi among France's customers

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, left, shakes hands with French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Sarkozy's fostering of ties with Gadhafi have raised a few eyebrowsImage: AP

France has signed nuclear co-operation agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Algeria and Libya. Chief executives of state-owned EDF, reactor maker Areva, as well as petrochemicals giant Total and electricity group Suez accompany Sarkozy on nearly all his official trips abroad.

At the end of last year Aveva clinched a commercial nuclear power contract worth a record 8 billion euros ($11.6 million) to supply China with two reactors and provide nuclear fuel for nearly two decades. EDF is also expected to have a stake in the Chinese plant.

Gabriel rejected German exports of nuclear plants. He said it was not against the law, but was in political contradiction with Germany's current law phases out nuclear energy.

"The last reactors will be taken of the power grid by 2020," Gabriel said.

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