Rest of world moving away from nuclear: green groups

CANBERRA, Oct 16 - North Korea's nuclear test last week was proof that development of nuclear power for peaceful purposes could not be guaranteed, Greenpeace said today.

Green groups have reacted with distaste to Prime Minister John Howard's firm statement today that he believed Australia should go down the path of nuclear power generation.

"North Korea is the latest example that developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes just cannot be guaranteed," Greenpeace spokesman Steve Shallhorn said in a statement.

"The uranium and nuclear power industries pose unacceptable risks of contributing to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as we saw just last week.

"Whilst Australia edges towards a nuclear future, much of the world is moving away from nuclear power.

"Only last month Spain closed a second nuclear plant because of public opposition to nuclear power. Spain is now the fourth European country to abandon nuclear power, following Sweden, Germany and Belgium."

Mr Shallhorn said nuclear power remained the most expensive way to generate electricity.

"Renewables are cleaner, cheaper and safer. The set-up costs of building reactors are enormous, and so far no country has been willing to absorb the costs of a new generation of reactors," he said.

"For Australia to do so with no existing experience in operating reactors would put electricity prices through the roof."

Friends of the Earth nuclear campaigner Jim Green said a global doubling of nuclear power output by 2050 would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by less than five per cent.

This would be less than one tenth of the reductions required to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

"And that calculation assumes that nuclear power displaces fossil fuels rather than greenhouse-friendly renewables and energy efficiency measures," Dr Green said.

Further comment: Jim Green 0417 318 368