Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, said for the first time that his country could delay or abandon the planned shutdown of its remaining nuclear reactors while criticizing Russia’s decision to restrict gas exports to Germany.

The massive Nord Stream pipeline, which connects Germany and Russia under the Baltic Sea and is run by the Russian government-owned energy company Gazprom PJSC, was shut down last month for maintenance.

Gazprom resumed the pipeline’s operation following its maintenance, although only to 40% of its capacity. It has recently reduced it to 20%, claiming that it can’t keep up with normal flow without a turbine that was in Canada for repair. Scholz disputed that justification on Wednesday, claiming that Russia refused to accept delivery of the turbine.

The government has been compelled to take emergency action due to the impending gas shortage, raising the possibility of gas rationing this winter, which could force manufacturers to close and send the biggest economy in Europe into a recession.

On Tuesday, according to the Wall Street Journal, the chancellor deviated from long-standing policy and suggested for the first time that keeping Germany’s final three nuclear reactors operational “could make sense.” As part of the nation’s transition to renewable energy, they are scheduled to be shut down in December.

Six percent of the electricity used in Germany is produced by the three remaining reactors. Plans to replace them with gas were derailed by Germany’s key energy source, Russia, engaging in an economic war against critics of its invasion of Ukraine.

In order to assess if the nuclear facilities’ operations can be expanded safely and whether doing so would improve Germany’s energy supply, Scholz’s administration has commissioned a stress test for them. The study’s conclusion, which might be in the next few days, will determine whether or not to extend their lives, the chancellor stated on Wednesday.

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