Germany has temporarily shut down two of its oldest nuclear power plants for safety checks and is rethinking its plans to extend the life of 17 nuclear plants in the context of the Japanese crisis.

After two explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor in Japan, Germany has ordered a three-month moratorium during which period the plants will undergo safety checks to ensure efficient and safe operations.

Two of the country’s oldest nuclear power stations in Hesse and Neckarwestheim I will be taken off the grid as they have reached the end of their lifespan, according to German chancellor Angela Merkel.

The two plants will only be reconnected if they pass strict safety checks.

In response to the government’s decision, E.ON is suspending operations at its oldest nuclear power station Isar-1 for the period of the moratorium.

Switzerland has also decided to suspend its plans to build and replace nuclear plants.

In an EU meeting, energy ministers, nuclear regulators, and industry officials agreed on the need for tough tests to check whether the EU’s 143 nuclear reactors are capable of withstanding earthquakes and other emergencies.

The EU plans to devise stress tests and apply them in the second half of 2011, and plants failing the tests would be shut down, according to European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettingerhe.