Germany says no more credit guarantees for nuclear exports

BERLIN, June 12 Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:43am EDT

BERLIN, June 12 (Reuters) - Germany's government has decided to stop issuing credit guarantees for exports of equipment used for nuclear power generation because the risks to public safety are too great, the Economy Ministry said on Thursday.

The guarantees offer security to exporters and banks who do business in emerging markets where there is a risk of non-payment.

For years, critics have called for a halt to Germany's so-called Hermes guarantees for nuclear exports, such as those used in atomic plants in Brazil. China and India also want new nuclear plants to help fulfil their energy needs.

"Germany has moved away from nuclear energy because it is linked to significant, uncontrollable risks. These risks exist in equal measure abroad," Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

After Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Germany decided to phase out atomic energy, Italy scrapped a planned nuclear programme and France decided to cut atomic power to 50 percent of its electricity mix from 75 percent today.

Credit guarantees will continue to be available for the decommissioning or tearing-down of nuclear plants as well as for research. Guarantees already issued will not be affected.

Gabriel's Social Democrats are part of a governing coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

The opposition Greens party has been the most vocal opposed to the export guarantees but the SPD has also been critical. But the SPD's coalition deal last year with Merkel's conservatives skirted the issue.

Under Merkel's previous coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats, some 50 million euros ($68.08 million) of export guarantees were issued for nuclear equipment, although most were for research projects. ($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)