Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley spent Memorial Day weekend in Europe and talked with Radio Iowa today (Tuesday) from Berlin. Grassley is among leaders from 25 NATO-member nations who are taking part in a forum on international security issues – including terrorism, nuclear arsenals and global health threats.
After a weekend meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Paris, Grassley and others visited a French naval base. Grassley says he was the only American to visit the nuclear submarine facility on the Atlantic coast, the first time he’s been aboard a nuclear sub.
Grassley met today (Tuesday) with Germany’s new foreign minister Frank Steinmeier, and Grassley says Steinmeier wanted to talk about things other than Iraq and Afghanistan. Since Grassley’s chair of the Senate Finance Committee, he says he brought up the issues of international trade, the World Trade Organization, and mentioned his hopes to see other nations move on agriculture.
One of several other meetings Grassley took part in focused on economics and the current energy crisis. Grassley says the concensus was that demand for petroleum will stay great, prices will stay high and there’ll be an economic drag until more of a shift is made toward alternative fuels. He says nuclear energy had the most support as being a responsible alternative to petroleum-based energy. Grassley says that might be something of a surprise to Americans, since the last new nuclear plant in the US was built in the 1970s. He says Europe is moving ahead of the US in nuclear energy though he predicts that industry in the US will be revitalized.