Hungarian parliament clears nuke deal with Russia

Budapest, Feb 7: Hungary’s parliament Thursday cleared a contract authorising Russia’s Rosatom to build two new reactors at the country’s only nuclear power plant, Xinhua reported.

The plant is located in Paks, a town about 100 km south of Budapest on the Danube.

The vote was carried by a sizable majority as the ruling Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority in parliament, and many MPs from the far right Jobbik party voted with it. The other opposition parties were against it, but the overall vote was still 256 to 29.

An agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear power was signed by Hungarian National Development Minister Zsuzsanna Nemeth and Rosatom chief Sergey Kiriyenko in Moscow Jan 14, which included Rosatom’s construction of two new reactors.

The agreement calls for designing and building the new reactors, each to have a capacity of at least 1,000 megawatts, designed to replace the four reactors now operating in Paks and slowly nearing the end of their service lives.

Russia is granting Hungary a $14 billion line of credit for the construction, with a grace period on repayment until the first of the reactors is in operation.

The vote was taken by roll-call, and was interrupted repeatedly by members of one opposition party, LMP, which used a megaphone siren to prevent the MPs from being heard. They were eventually ejected from parliament.

There have also been street demonstrations, some calling for the power plant to be shut down and others opposing the deal with Russia, made without benefit of an international bidding process or negotiations with any other prospective company.

IANS