Czech minister says Russia row could influence nuclear station tender

There is a chapel in front of the cooling towers of the Czech nuclear power plant in Dukovany, 200 kilometers east of Prague, on March 15, 2011. REUTERS / Petr Josek / File Photo

The Czech Republic’s security dispute with Russia could influence a decision on whether Russia will be asked to bid for the construction of a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant, Industry Minister Karel Havlicek told Reuters on Saturday.

The Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian diplomats on suspicion that Russian intelligence services were involved in an ammunition depot explosion in 2014. Read more

The expulsions come because the Central European country wants to start a tender for the construction of a new block in the majority state-owned CEZ plant (CEZP.PR) in Dukovany.

“These events can of course affect Dukovany (alert). It is very serious news that such an act, if confirmed, must clearly have consequences,” Havlicek said in a text message when asked about the expulsions.

Havlicek has worked to ensure that as many bidders as possible in the nuclear tender, including those from Russia, stand up for increased competitiveness.

However, the Czech security services have been warning of the risks that Russia and China bring with them for years. Opposition politicians have supported these views.

Earlier this year, the political parties agreed to exclude Chinese bidders from Dukovany’s tender without reaching an agreement on Russian companies.

The tender, with an estimated value of at least 6 billion euros, is the largest single investment by the European Union and the NATO country.

In addition to the Russian Rosatom, the US American group Westinghouse, the French EdF (EDF.PA) and the South Korean KHNP are considered bidders.

The Ministry of Industry launched a pre-qualification round ahead of the official launch of the tender, which is expected towards the end of 2021, which has been set as a safety assessment for potential bidders after a new government took office following the October parliamentary elections.

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