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Hungary says pushing ahead with Russia-backed nuclear plant expansion

Iran media say nuclear facilities in Isfahan 'completely secure'
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Hungary’s foreign minister vowed during a visit to Moscow on Tuesday to push ahead with the expansion of a nuclear plant being constructed by Russia’s state nuclear agency.

Peter Szijjarto said the two countries had agreed on further energy cooperation, including the extension of an option for Hungary to buy more gas than under its current contract if needed.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban — who fostered close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin before Moscow sent troops into Ukraine — has been critical of EU sanctions and adamant that the central European country needs to continue cooperating with Russia for its energy requirements.

The plant at Paks south of Budapest is Hungary’s only nuclear facility and supplies around 40 percent of its electricity needs.

Hungary aims to have two new reactors enter service by 2030 with their construction part of a 2014 deal struck between Orban and Putin.

Szijjarto said his country had agreed with Russia to modify the construction and financing contract of the Paks expansion.

He said he hoped the European Commission would “quickly” approve the amendment “so that we can move forward with this investment.”

“We hope that the European Commission does not want to jeopardise the long-term security of the Hungarian energy supply,” Szijjarto said in a video statement on Facebook.

“In many cases they are clearly trying to block the successful nuclear cooperation between Hungary and Russia throughout Europe with political means and unlawful decisions.”

Szijjarto also said the two countries agreed on the continued delivery of Russian crude to Hungary’s MOL through the Druzhba pipeline that runs through Ukraine. MOL will negotiate directly with the Ukrainian operators of the pipeline the transit fees, Szijjarto added.

Szijjarto has travelled to Russia several times since Moscow invaded Ukraine more than a year ago.

In 2017, the European Union’s executive arm allowed the expansion of the Paks plant — built with Soviet-era technology in the 1980s — with a 10-billion-euro ($12.4 billion) Russian loan.

Hungary is paying for the remaining 2.5 billion euros to more than double the plant’s current capacity. The work is carried out by Moscow’s state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom.

Fellow EU member Finland cancelled a similar Russian nuclear power plant project in May last year over the conflict in Ukraine.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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