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Germany to Shut Down 7 Nuclear Reactors

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a news conference in the Chancellery in Berlin, March 15, 2011

The German government has announced plans to shut down seven of the country's aging nuclear power plants pending a safety review in light of recent events in Japan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the shutdown will last for three months and will affect plants built before 1980. She announced the closures Tuesday after a meeting with governors of states that have nuclear plants.

Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said it is not clear if the plants will remain closed or be reconnected at a later time.

On Monday, Merkel announced a temporary suspension of a plan to extend the life of a number of German nuclear plants. The previous government decided a decade ago to shut down all of the country's nuclear power plants by 2021, but the Merkel administration postponed the switch-off by 12 years.

Meanwhile Tuesday, the European Union is convening a meeting in Brussels to discuss safety measures in place for reactors on the continent.

According to the European Nuclear Society, as of January 2011 there were 195 nuclear plants in operation and under construction in Europe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.