German minister: Nukes are Pandora's box

Sigmar Gabriel, the German federal minister for nuclear safety tells Post: "At the end of the day, there is no safe reactor."

If the G8 countries push nuclear energy as the way to economic sustainably, they will also be giving other countries the ability to develop nuclear bombs, Sigmar Gabriel, the German federal minister for environment, nature conservation and nuclear safety, told the The Jerusalem Post in an interview over the weekend. "The problem with nuclear energy is that it is like Pandora's box," said Gabriel, who is here for official meetings and to speak at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. "At the end of the day, there is no safe reactor." Instead, Gabriel spoke said he favored switching to renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar thermal energy, and improving energy efficiency. "Environment Minister Gideon Ezra told me in a meeting during my visit that within 10 years time, 5 to 10 percent of electricity production in Israel will be produced by renewable energy," said Gabriel. "Environmental policy does not seem to be on the top of government's agenda, but environmental problems could be helped through cooperation with neighboring countries in the region such as Jordan," he said. Germany is further along on the way to using alternative energy sources, the minister said. "We hope that by 2010, about 20% of our energy production will be from renewable energy," he said. Gabriel said other important challenges facing Israeli policymakers were ensuring adequate water supplies and waste management. Meanwhile, Gabriel announced a new memorandum of understanding between Israel, Germany, Egypt and Jordan for cooperation on Clean Development Mechanism projects. The Memorandum is expected to be signed in two weeks. CDM is one of the two project-based flexible mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The mechanisms are designed to make it easier and cheaper for industrialized countries to meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets agreed to under the protocol. The CDM is also meant to assist developing countries in achieving sustainable development. As part of his visit, Gabriel, who is also chairman of the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, gave a lecture on "Modern Environment Policy and Security in Energy Production" at the Van Leer Institute. "Many of the Israelis attending complained about the problem of the scarcity of natural resources and the fact that energy production was not understood as an instrument for the development of the country," he said. Over the next week, Gabriel will meet with Fatah representatives in Ramallah, as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He will also visit Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakheet.