Hungary has stated its opposition to any potential European Union (EU) sanctions that target Russia’s nuclear energy sector. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto made this announcement on Monday during a meeting with Aleksey Likhachev, the head of Russian nuclear company Rosatom. Szijjarto emphasized that the use of nuclear energy in collaboration with Rosatom aligns with Hungary’s national interests. He further explained that the construction of the Paks-2 nuclear power plant is a significant international project involving American, German, French, and Russian companies.
In August, Rosatom and Hungary signed an agreement to commence the construction of two reactors for the Paks-2 plant. Hungary has consistently emphasized the importance of this project for both the country and its neighboring EU nations. As nuclear power is not currently covered by EU sanctions against Russia, Hungary believes that any attempt to restrict the sector should be opposed. Conversely, Ukrainian officials have repeatedly called on the EU to blacklist Rosatom.
The Paks nuclear power station, situated approximately 100 kilometers from Budapest, is currently Hungary’s sole nuclear power facility. It operates four VVR-440 reactors of Soviet design, generating approximately half of the country’s electricity. The addition of two newer VVR-1200 reactors would effectively double the plant’s capacity, a goal that the Hungarian government has long sought in order to enhance the nation’s energy independence.
However, the project has encountered significant delays, prompting Hungarian officials to explore the possibility of altering the contract to include a project management company that could expedite the construction process. In May, the European Commission approved changes to the contract and financing. In the original agreement, Russia was expected to provide a state loan of €10 billion ($10.6 billion), covering the majority of the estimated €12.5 billion project cost. Construction of Paks-2 is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2024.
Hungary’s stance on opposing EU sanctions on Russian nuclear energy reflects its commitment to maintaining its national interests and energy security. The Paks-2 project is vital for Hungary’s energy independence and economic growth. By collaborating with Rosatom and other international companies, the country aims to strengthen its nuclear sector and ensure a stable and reliable source of electricity for its citizens.
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