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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 19:26 GMT
Germany may retain nuclear power
By Steve Rosenberg
BBC News, Berlin

Worker checking Druzhba oil pipeline
Energy supplies from the east have been disrupted twice
Senior members of Germany's government have suggested retaining nuclear power as a way of diversifying the country's sources of energy.

It follows concern that Germany has become too dependent on Russian fuel.

A year ago it was supplies of Russian gas to Germany which were hit when the Russians turned off the gas taps to Ukraine.

Now it is Russian oil which has stopped flowing because of a dispute between Moscow and Minsk.

Two disruptions to energy supply from the east - which, for Germany, have highlighted the dangers of being over dependent on Russian fuel - which is why nuclear power here could receive a stay of execution.

Energy 'mix'

The previous German government under Gerhard Schroeder had voted to close the country's 17 nuclear power stations.

Angela Merkel's coalition cabinet had said it would not reverse the decision despite the fact that many in her party, the Christian Democrats, are far more nuclear friendly.

But in the light of the latest energy dispute Mrs Merkel has called for an extensive and balanced mix of energy - the consequences of phasing out nuclear power, she said, must be considered.

Germany's economy minister was more direct - he has called for an urgent and necessary rethink of the country's pledge to abandon atomic energy.

But any attempt to do so would anger the chancellor's coalition partners, the Social Democrats, and spark major opposition.

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