Hungary receives nuclear fuel from Russia by air-foreign minister

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, US, September 23, 2021. Mary Altaffer/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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BUDAPEST, April 7 (Reuters) – Hungary received the first shipment of nuclear fuel for its Paks nuclear plant from Russia by air on Wednesday, after the war in Ukraine made shipping by rail impossible, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday.

Szijjarto reiterated that Hungary rejected any sanctions on Russian oil and gas, adding that imposing any sanctions on activities related to nuclear energy was also a “red line” for Hungary.

“Fuel (for the Paks plant) has always come from Russia by rail via Ukraine, unfortunately … this is no longer possible so we had to find an alternative way for shipping,” Szijjarto said in a Facebook video from Brussels.

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He said the fuel shipment had arrived via the airspace of Belarus, Poland and Slovakia to Hungary with all three countries’ approval, as nuclear energy is not subject to any European Union sanctions.

Hungary wants to expand its Russian-built 2-gigawatt Paks nuclear power plant with two Russian-made VVER reactors, each with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts.

The project, awarded in 2014 without a tender to nuclear giant Rosatom has been often cited as a sign of warm ties between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The project has suffered delays.

Orban, who was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term in elections on Sunday, told a news conference on Wednesday that Budapest wanted to strengthen its Western alliances, as Hungary’s future was in the EU and firmly within NATO.

But he also said Hungary was prepared to pay roubles for Russian gas, breaking ranks with the EU which has sought a united front in opposing Moscow’s demand for payment in the currency. read more

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Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; editing by Jason Neely and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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