Belarus makes "final decision" to build nuclear station

The top security agency in Belarus on Tuesday decided to construct a nuclear power station within the former Soviet republic.

Belarus' National Security council headed by authoritarian President Aleksander Lukashenko ordered the government to begin technical planning for the project.

The four-billion-dollar development programme called for the station's first reactor to come on line in 2018, with a second reactor becoming operational one or two years after that, the Belapan news agency reported.

Full twenty thousand megawatt generation power would be achieved by 2020, enabling the new station to cover some 30 per cent of Belarus' electricity needs, according to the plan.

Financing for the station would come from government sources, internal investment, and foreign loans, Lukashenko said.

Cold-shouldered by most developed nations for Belarus' poor human rights record, Lukashenko made clear Belarus would go forward with the construction project using domestic resources, even if foreign assistance is not forthcoming.

"We must re-animate our nuclear power sector," he said. "We have made a historical decision today."

Belarusian plans to develop nuclear power are worrying particular to Poland and the Baltic states, both of which were downwind of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power accident.

Land-locked and lacking natural resources, Belarus is dependant on neighbouring Russia for almost all its energy needs. The Kremlin has almost tripled prices for natural gas and oil sold to Belarus in the last two years.

The Belarusian government should move forward quickly in determining a construction site, reactor type, and general contractor, Lukashenko was cited as saying by the presidential press office.

Most of Chernobyl's radiation struck Belarus, making the country the world's worst-hit by a reactor meltdown.

Nuclear power techniques in Belarus are believed not to have advanced significantly past Chernobyl-era technologies already outdated in the 1980s. ( Dpa )

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