Belarus has as of Yet No Other Partner to Build Nuclear Power Plant than Russia, Official Says

Belarus has as of yet no other partner to build a nuclear power plant than Russia, Uladzimir Nyadzilka, deputy head of the State Committee on Science and Technologies, told reporters in Minsk on Tuesday, as quoted by BelaPAN.

According to him, when Belarus invited bids, the Russian bid was the only one received.

Since the very beginning, the plant had been meant to be a Russian project, said Syarhey Rakhmanaw, deputy chairman of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The current differences between Belarus and Russia are because the parties cannot to reach an agreement on financial issues,” he explained.

On August 13, Alyaksandr Lukashenka insisted that Belarus might abandon plans to have its nuclear power plant project built by Russia and financed with a Russian loan.

The Belarusian leader said that the signing of an interstate agreement on the project had been postponed once again, and that the government did not reject the possibility of the plant being built by a contractor other than Russia’s Atomstroiexport. “We’ll soon decide who will build our nuclear plant,” he said, claiming that Belarus had offers in this regard.

Belarus chose Russia on the basis of “what they promised to us,” Mr. Lukashenka noted. “They urgently demanded from us that they build this plant and then they started putting pressure on us for, I believe, purely subjective reasons. You know what the reasons are,” he said.

According to Mr. Lukashenka, he has tasked the government with holding the last round of negotiations with Russia and asking straight whether or not it will build the plant.

Russia wanted Belarus to pay “in fact a double price,” but Minsk refused, saying that there had been an agreement that the price would be “the same as in Russia,” he said, adding that Belarus had agreed to pay the price at which the last nuclear power plant was built in Russia.

He also noted that Belarus could not accept the condition that a joint company be established to sell electricity generated by the plant, and that Inter RAO UES hold no less than 50 percent in the company and thereby receive at least 50 percent of the sales proceeds.

“Why should this be so if we take a loan from you, not a cheap one, and will repay it?” Mr. Lukashenka said. “What have you to do with our product?”

Although the project is somewhat behind schedule, Belarusian builders have already prepared the construction site and built access roads, he noted. “That’s why if Russia doesn’t build the nuclear plant in our country, we’ll hold negotiations with other investors. There are some in the world,” he said. “Although we’ll lose some time, there’s no need to hurry. But we are a sovereign state. We ask for a loan, not a cheap one, and then we’ll build the nuclear plant with it, together with another state.”

The Belarusian government wants the nuclear power plant to be built in the Hrodna region near the Lithuanian border. The 2,400MW plant is projected to account for 27 to 30 percent of the total domestic electricity output. One of the plant’s two reactors was expected to be put into operation in 2016 and the other in 2018.