Hungary approves construction of two Russian-built nuclear reactors | Hungary

Hungary has announced that the €12.5bn (£10.6bn) construction of two nuclear reactors by Russia’s Rosatom will begin in the coming weeks after regulators approved the project.

The war in Ukraine has not deterred Hungary’s interest in the project to add to the four reactors already operating at the Paks plant outside Budapest.

The fact it is moving forward is another indication of the close ties between Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

“This is a big step, an important milestone,” the Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, said on Facebook after the national regulator issued a permit on Thursday after numerous delays.

“We can now move from planning stage to construction. You’ll see that at the Paks site in the coming weeks,” said Szijjártó.

He added it was “realistic” the reactors could enter service by 2030.

The 2014 deal to build two 1,200MW reactors in Paks, 60 miles (100km) south of Budapest, will more than double the plant’s capacity.

Built with Soviet-era technology in the 1980s during Hungary’s communist period, the plant is the country’s only nuclear facility and provides about 40% of its electricity needs.

“In this manner we will ensure Hungary’s energy security in the long term and protect Hungarians from wild swings in energy prices,” said Szijjártó.

Russia is financing most of the project with a €10bn loan to Hungary, which is paying the remaining €2.5bn.

Finland, an EU member, cancelled a similar Russian nuclear power plant project in May over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary has bucked EU efforts to isolate and sanction Russia. Whereas its EU partners are trying to quickly wean themselves off Russian oil and gas, Hungary has obtained exceptions and has negotiated extra deliveries of natural gas.

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