Russia 'ready' to entirely fund Hungary nuclear plant

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) is welcomed by his host Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) during his one-day visit, in the Hungarian parliament building of Budapest on Feb 2, 2017 prior to their official talks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) is welcomed by his host Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) during his one-day visit, in the Hungarian parliament building of Budapest on Feb 2, 2017 prior to their official talks. PHOTO: AFP

BUDAPEST (AFP) - Russia is "ready" to finance in full the expansion of Hungary's only nuclear plant, Russian president Vladimir Putin said Thursday (Feb 2) in Budapest.

The original agreement signed between Hungary and Russia's Rosatom in 2014 involved an 80-per cent loan of 10-billion-euro (S$15-billion) from Moscow.

"We are ready to finance 100 per cent," Putin told a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the Hungarian parliament.

The project, still under scrutiny by Brussels, would expand the facility in Paks, south of Budapest, with two power blocks of 1,200 megawatts.

The pact was seen as a sign of increasingly close ties between Orban and the Kremlin.

In 2015 the European Commission launched a probe into the project, which was awarded without a tender process, to assess if it broke EU rules on competition.

Orban said Thursday that "most of the obstacles" blocking the construction of the "Paks II" expansion had been cleared.

"We are looking forward to begin (building) it," he said.

Construction of the reactors is scheduled to start in 2018, with the first reactor expected to begin operation in 2023.