Claim government ending cooperation with Rosatom ‘a lie’, minister says

The claim that Hungary's government is withdrawing from cooperation with Russia's Rosatom on the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant "is a lie", Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday, emphasising that the increased role of France's Framatome in the project concerned only the delivery of the control technology required for the new reactor blocks.

Framatome’s role has had to be increased because its German consortium partner, Siemens Energy, has not yet received an export permit “for political reasons”, Szijjarto told a press conference during a break in a meeting of European Union energy affairs ministers in Brussels, according to a ministry statement.

Szijjarto said nuclear energy was subjected to discrimination, arguing that the expansion of Hungary’s Paks plant was “constantly facing obstacles” and “they are trying to impose sanctions on nuclear projects, which we regularly block”.

He said Germany’s government was still blocking Siemens Energy’s participation in the Paks upgrade and had yet to approve its delivery of the control technology for the project in line with its contract.

Szijjarto slammed the “constant wave of fake news in the international liberal media”, calling reports that the Hungarian government was withdrawing from cooperation with Rosatom “an outright lie”.

“We are committed to fulfilling the contract signed nine years ago with Rosatom,” the minister said. “We are committed to the construction of Paks 2 with Rosatom . We have no reason to withdraw from this cooperation.”

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said the EU’s pro-nuclear alliance comprising 12 member states led by France held a meeting earlier in the day.

Currently seven countries are planning to build or are already building nuclear plants, Szijjarto said, adding this would lead to a “major nuclear rebirth” in Europe over the coming years in the interest of defending against price fluctuations.

The meeting’s participants agreed to work together closely to combat discrimination against nuclear energy.

The group therefore calls for lending conditions to be changed so that they could also be used fairly for nuclear energy-related investments, Szijjarto said.

Legal and licensing procedures should also be reviewed and based on the decades of experience Europe has gained in the use of nuclear energy, he said.

The alliance also proposes the development of joint training programmes in the interest of ensuring that there are enough professionals and capacity, he added.

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