Although Germany decided years ago to phase-out nuclear power, politicians from the country's governing parties continue to argue about how and when it will happen.
Germany could also phase nuclear power back in
Gabriel has irritated nulcear power proponents
His suggestions to transfer permits to newer reactors could result in only 10 of Germany's 17 reactors being in use by 2009, with the last one out of commission in 2023, the paper calculated.
The nuclear phase-out Germany agreed upon under former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government of Social Democrats and Greens would result in the last reactor being shut down in 2020.
Germany's nuclear industry dismissed Gabriel's comments, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper wrote in its Monday edition. What was necessary was to discuss finding the right mixture of energy and what power sources would be needed in the future, it quoted an unnamed industry insider as saying.
"If there was a genuine safety problem, Mr. Gabriel would have had to shut down the plants a long time ago," the person said.
Energy companies active in Germany have applied to transfer permits for energy production from new to old plants, but none have been filed to shift the permits from old to new plants, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The nuclear industry continues to push for Germany to reverse its decision to phase out nuclear power.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, too, would prefer for Germany to stick with nuclear energy.