France sees 'extremely high' Japan nuclear threat

15th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The threat from a nuclear reactor damaged by Japan's huge earthquake is "extremely high," France's foreign minister said Tuesday, but insisted Group of Eight major powers trusted Japan to see off the danger.

"The situation is extremely serious... The risk is extremely high," Alain Juppe said on Europe 1 radio, after Japan's Takeaki Matsumoto briefed him and their other G8 counterparts on the situation.

Japan's nuclear crisis escalated Tuesday as two more blasts and a fire rocked the quake-stricken Fukushima atomic power plant, sending radiation up to dangerous levels.

"Reactor number four has had a fire and there is radioactivity that could harm the health of people," Matsumoto said through an interpreter after G8 talks on Tuesday, echoing a health warning by Japan's chief government spokesman Yukio Edano.

The G8 ministers declared they were "fully confident in the Japanese government's capacity to handle the crisis," Juppe said, reading out a joint statement.

Matsumoto told reporters that "the Japanese government and people are encouraged by the support" they have received from abroad. "We have asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to send us a technical team," he added.

Responding to environmental concerns over France's own big nuclear power sector, Juppe said there should be a debate on safety but insisted that "to say to the French that we are going to give up nuclear power would be lying."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed "our condolence and our solidarity" with Japan, standing beside Matsumoto before a bilateral meeting on Tuesday morning.

"Japan is always a very generous donor to any disaster anywhere in the world and today the world comes together to support Japan in its hour of need," Clinton told reporters.

© 2011 AFP

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