Bulgaria Wants to Freeze Belene Nuclear Project Again

Bulgaria Wants to Freeze Belene Nuclear Project Again

Bulgaria has demanded that Belene nuclear project is frozen for another three months as of July, the energy and economy minister announced on Friday.

"We have proposed a three-month delay so that we have time to catch up with the so-called back office work," Minister Traicho Traikov said at a conference about the energy infrastructure, which is taking place in Sofia.

"We need additional information about the cost of the project, because what we have received so far from the Russian side has not been satisfactory," said Traikov.

He added that negotiations for a new contract with Moscow for the construction of Belene can continue even while the project, which has hit a snag over safety, financial and price concerns, is frozen between July and September.

Asked by journalists whether Bulgaria faces the risk of being taken to arbitration by the Russian contractor Rosatom as it is likely to miss the July 1 deadline for signing a final agreement for its construction, Minister Traikov said:

"The arbitration is not a risk, it is an option."

The 12th annex to the main contract between Bulgaria and Russia on the construction of two 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactors at Belene, in the north, will expire at the end of June.

The Bulgarian side apparently wants to steer clear of rushing for last-ditch effort in the negotiations with the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom for the fate of the Belene nuclear power project.

The annex triggered a huge scandal at the beginning of April after the head of the national utility company NEK Krasimir Parvanov signed an agreement with Rosatom's subsidiary Atomstroyexport that potentially threatens Bulgaria's national interests by obliging the Bulgarian government to reach a final agreement with the Russians on Belene by July 1, 2001. (Source: Sofia News Agency)

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