Belarus' president pledged on Thursday to begin construction of the country's first nuclear power plant next year, news agencies reported
Alexander Lukashenko said the plant would help guarantee the ex-Soviet republic's national security.
The project "is dictated not by some political ambitions, but by the necessity to ensure the country's energy security in case of a decrease in gas and oil resources, supply problems or the increase in energy carriers' costs," Lukashenko was quoted by ITAR-Tass news agency as saying.
No details were given, but officials earlier had said it would take four to eight years to build the plant at an estimated cost of US$2.5 billion to US$2.8 billion (1.8 billion euros to 2 billion euros).
Belarus' Soviet-style economy has long been propped up by cheap energy resources from Russia. But Moscow this year sharply hiked prices for oil and gas, angering Lukashenko and prompting him to threaten to walk out of the economic union the two nations are moving toward. ( TZ )