Ukraine withdraws from n-construction deal with Russia

Kiev, Sep 16 (IANS) Ukraine’s parliament on Wednesday voted to unilaterally scrap an agreement to jointly build with Russia two reactors at the Khmelnitsky Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in western Ukraine, the parliament’s press service said.

A total of 234 lawmakers out of the 307 present in the assembly supported the bill submitted by the government, more than the minimum 226 votes needed, the press service said in a statement.

Commenting on the withdrawal, Ukraine’s Deputy Energy Minister Alexander Svetelik accused Russia of “failing to fulfill the obligations under the deal”, saying Ukraine will seek an “alternative partner” to complete the construction of No. 3 and No. 4 units at the Khmelnitsky NPP, Xinhua reported.

The Russian authorities have not yet commented on the Ukrainian decision’s potential impact on bilateral cooperation in the nuclear sector.

In June 2010, the former Soviet neighbours signed a deal to jointly unfreeze the construction of two units at the Khmelnitsky NPP. Under the accord, Moscow committed itself to investing 5 billion to $6 billion in the project.

The construction of the two reactors started in 1985, but was halted a year later following a nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl NPP, which resulted in the demolition of the No. 4 reactor and the spread of radiation across Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and some European countries.

Ukraine relies heavily on nuclear energy, which generates over half of its electricity. Currently, 15 reactors in four nuclear power plants are operating in the East European country.

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