France says not ready to give up nuclear
France said Monday it was not ready to give up nuclear power after neighbour Germany became the first major industrialised nation to announce it would close all its reactors after the disaster in Japan.
While France "respected" the German decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022, this was not an option for the French government which views it as a "solution for the future", Prime Minister Francois Fillon said.
"We think that for some decades at least we will not be able to do without nuclear energy," added Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.
"But this does not mean that we should not develop alternative energy sources."
Industry Minister Eric Besson said nuclear power allowed France to provide electricity at prices some 40 percent cheaper than other European countries, on average.
"German households, for example, pay twice as much for their electricity," he claimed.
The Socialist Party, however, asked that the issue be put to the French people at the occasion of presidential elections next year.
"Nuances exist within the (party) on this question," spokesman Benoit Hamon said. Socialist leader Martine Aubry, a possible presidential candidate, had called for an end to France's reliance on nuclear power after the accident at Japan's Fukushima plant.
Socialist Francois Hollande, who has declared his interest in the presidency, supports a phased reduction of nuclear energy use.
The French Greens, for their part, have welcomed Germany's move.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a major policy U-turn, said earlier all 17 of the country's nuclear reactors would be closed by 2022 at the latest.
© 2011 AFP