Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

Nuclear Power, Politics and Law: The Bumpy Road to Phasing Out Germany’s Nuclear Industry

Posted by K.E. White on June 21, 2011

Will constitutional law stop Germany from heading towards a nuke-free future?

No, but it may put a steep price-tag on it.

Last month, reacting to Japan’s March 2011 nuclear catastrophe and a shocking electoral shellacking in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced plans to phase out nuclear energy as soon as possible.

The result?  Even worse political fortunes, and—now—the risk of paying billions in damages to Germany’s nuclear industry.

E.On, the world’s largest investor held energy service provider, announced last Friday that it would challenge the bundle of nuclear energy proposals recently made law in Germany.

And yesterday, E.On released a legal memo crafted by Gleiss Lutz detailing their claims against the government.  Specifically, the memo argues that E-on should be compensated for the German government’s illegal expropriation of their property.  Deutshe-Welle explains the reasoning of the possible suit:

The reasoning behind the claim focuses on the amount of electricity from nuclear power that energy companies would be allowed to generate before they are shut down.

Lawyers for the companies reportedly argue that these remaining kilowatt hours – to be produced in the future – are the property of the energy companies and are therefore protected as proprietary rights of ownership by the German constitution.

The amount of money at stake?  According to Eon’s Friday press release, “billions of Euros.”

Whatever the merits, this case shows the  difficulties countries may have in rapidly phasing out nuclear energy.  Furthermore, it suggests Merkel’s awkward political 180 will stay in the news for weeks to come.

This commentator has no knowledge of German property law; but, if EU law, is any guide–this property suit may have some trouble.  (The German constitution’s  Art. 14 has similar language).   Art. 17 of the EU Charter specifically states:

No one may be deprived of his or her possessions, except in the public interest and in the cases and under the conditions provided for by law, subject to fair compensation being paid in good time for their loss.

Now the “fair compensation” may seem like an easy hook.  But one case made clear that one isn’t deprived of their possessions by simply restricting their uses (for example, telling a person who bought a wineyard that they haven’t been “deprived” after EU law banned such a use, because they could always use it to sit on and enjoy–at a steep economic cost).

Now here, if the property being dealt with is unused kilowatt hours, deprivation may be more easily proven.  But, then again, the “public interest” prong is likely much more compelling.

And there’s always the business-risk argument:  When a private industry takes the chance–as did small coal producers before the advent of the ECSC–it knows there’s an always present risk that regulatory guidelines may come down that drive them out of business.  It seems here, while E-On could argue they can met every reasonable safety precaution and could not foresee such a quick change in Germany’s energy policy.  But the Greens have discussed knocking out nuclear energy, and there’s always the inherent risk of nuclear technology to argue the industry should have always known a regulatory ban could come at any time.

And while there are due process concerns, the phase out is not immediate: rather it lays down a 10-year plan (the really meeting the severe due process concerns at play in the Kadi case where a person placed on a UN sanctions list could not receive any of his funds to play for basic living expenses while he was challenging this designation.).

Hence, if German case-law has a similar trajectory to EU law the case could be in trouble.

In any case, it’s a fun case to map out, and a case with huge consequences for the German government and E.On.

If anyone can find the actual the Gleiss Lutz legal opinion, released yesterday, detailing  Eon’s legal claims (in English), I’d be very appreciative.

Posted in Germany, nuclear energy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Germany’s UN Security Council Strategy: Schöndorf & Kaim Give Their Two Cents

Posted by K.E. White on June 15, 2011

Stiftung Wissenchaft und Politik—or the German Institute for International Security Affairs—offers an excellent article discussing Germany’s role on the United Nations Security Council.  In it, Elisabeth Schöndorf and Markus Kaim ask two critical questions that’s worth anyone reflecting on:  what strategy should a country adopt when it is a UN Security Council Member, and why does it matter?

‘Big’ Picture Items:

Diplomatic Strategy and the U.N. Security Council:  Elisabeth Schöndorf and Markus Kaim premise their article (“Peace, Security, and Crisis Management”) on the need for Germany “to determine its priority objectives and to sharpen their strategic focus”—why do they really have to?  The authors pick out geographic areas—Africa and Afghanistan—and strengthening U.N.-NATO ties (but isn’t the real issue with NATO itself?).  But—really—would it not be better for Germany to focus on thematic issues, backed up by practical national and international steps forward?

For example, Afghanistan will wind down (or up) according to America’s watch, not Germany’s.  But, in keeping with Schöndorf & Kaim’s prediction of new crises and (possible) newly failed states, Germany may do well in helping the international community plan contingencies for the failures of States.  Such steps could be practical:  coordinating international responses for refugees; stepping up the ground-work for quick aid; and having sober discussions on w hat countries can and cannot offer in these situations.  This quiet diplomacy could lead to templates for the international community to respond not only to today’s crises, but tomorrow.

Finally, such a thematic approach looks ahead to new problems developing, maximizing Germany’s influence when it comes to the great strategic and military moves ‘big’ powers may make.

Also, Schöndorf & Kaim miss a vital issue plaguing international security:  battling the proliferation of WMD while assisting the world’s emerging economies energy needs.

The Importance of today’s U.N. Security Council

“The current council is probably the ‘strongest’ that has ever convened:  for the first time, all of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and the IBSA countries (India, Brazil and South Africa) and thus important regional powers are members, as are major troop contributors to UN missions, major donor states, and almost all of the members of the G8.  In addition, nine of the fifteen members of the Security Council for 2011/2012 are also members of the G20.”

This is a critical observation (even if BRIC should really be BIIC), and may be a golden moment for the United Nations Security Council to shows its ability to follow through on commitments.  Whether this is the Special Tribunal for Lebanon or Libya, it’s critical that emerging powers show that multilateral engagement—whatever its flaws—can foster peace, security, and development for all nations.

But this seems to foster Germany taking a thematic approach first; instead of replaying the same great power divides of past U.S.-led interventions in the Middle East.

The Lingering Question:  Isn’t Germany Impact Really on Changing Minds on Individual Votes, and Won’t German Diplomatic Relations Have More Effect?

One critical omission for the piece: isn’t the true measure of Germany’s Council influence whether it changes other Member’s votes?  And this will probably have more to do with bilateral relations than ‘grand strategy’ calculations.  Yet, any country must identify their vital interests, lest it goes to the mat over every Council vote.  But again, it seems a thematic approach would help more than country specific:  engaging with countries on general topics give more room to identify mutual interests than simply outlining region or country-specific goals.  And isn’t this especially the case when in one of these areas—Afghanistan—Germany will clearly be playing second fiddle to America’s strategic adjustments?

As a middle power, Germany has the luxury to not be bogged down in the ‘great power’ debates that so often cripple the Council.  Instead, it can map a truly long-term strategy that allows it to be the ‘indispensible facilitator’ when future disputes arise.

And that’s one luxury Germany should not squander.

Posted in Diplomacy, Germany, United Nations | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

News Roundup from Der Spiegel: Iranian Facilities Constructed with German Parts? And ElBaradei Describes the “Horror Scenario”

Posted by K.E. White on September 4, 2007

“I am not a purist or a dreamer.”

Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA head

Germany’s Der Spiegel leads with two proliferation-related pieces today. The first piece delves into how German hardware made it into an Iranian nuclear plant, somehow evading German export controls.

But top billing goes to an interview with IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei. Below are two nuggets of note: 1) ElBaradei’s dirty bomb “horror scenario” and 2) his continuing support for the US-India nuclear deal.

The US-India nuclear deal, as often discussed on this blog, has raised concerns of a nuclear exception for India—a non-party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—and may encourage more countries to seek their own nuclear enrichment capabilities. Not to mention the possible side-effect of egging on China to revitalize their own nuclear arsenal if the face of growing cooperation between regional rival India the United States.

From the Der Spiegel interview with ElBaradei:

ElBaradei: That’s my greatest concern, a horror scenario. I’m not thinking about a nuclear weapon. No terrorist organization has the necessary know-how or potential to acquire these weapons. But a small, so-called dirty bomb containing radioactive material, detonated somewhere in a major city, could cost human lives and set off massive terror with serious economic consequences. Sometimes I think it’s a miracle that it hasn’t happened yet. I pray that it remains that way.

SPIEGEL: India never joined the NPT, and it tested a nuclear weapon in 1998. The IAEA is not even allowed to inspect India’s civilian plants, not to mention its military ones. And yet the United States now wants to supply Delhi with new nuclear technology and fuel. Why didn’t you object to this deal?

ElBaradei: I was even in favor of it. I am not a purist or a dreamer. India became a nuclear power, and it was ostracized internationally for a time as a result. This no longer makes any sense. We would consider it progress if we could monitor India’s civilian nuclear power plants in the future, and we will likely begin negotiations on this issue with Delhi soon, provided the deal isn’t cancelled as a result of domestic political disagreements first.

Posted in Der Spiegel, dirty bomb, Germany, IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, Nuclear, nuclear export, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Leave a Comment »

Germany’s Nuclear Energy: Apparently Staying

Posted by K.E. White on September 3, 2007

This Deutsche Welle news clip shows just how hard getting off nuclear power can be, even for a country with an established Green Party:

The nuclear phase-out Germany agreed upon under former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s government of Social Democrats and Greens would result in the last reactor being shut down in 2020.

Energy companies active in Germany have applied to transfer permits for energy production from new to old plants, but none have been filed to shift the permits from old to new plants, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The nuclear industry continues to push for Germany to reverse its decision to phase out nuclear power.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, too, would prefer for Germany to stick with nuclear energy.

Posted in energy, Germany, Nuclear | Leave a Comment »

News Update

Posted by K.E. White on February 15, 2007

Loose Lips Alert: Did the U.S. “coerce” India in voting against Iran at the IAEA?

Read how America is stopping India from having an independent energy policy. Are the energy wars upon us?

The ladies should give Musharraf some credit: Pakistan on course to outlaw forced marriage

Why is Australia on an ever tightening nuclear time clock?

Japan’s ‘Whale of a Problem’ with international whaling

Is Germany Going off the Nuclear Juice? Not so fast, says Siemens

Where Germany falls off, Britain picks up. Blair wants nuke plans, stat!

 

Posted in Austrailia, Blair, Britain, Bush administration, Germany, India, Japan, Musharraf, Nuclear power, Pakistan, whaling | Leave a Comment »