Construction of a nuclear power plant: more questions than answers
Russia and Belarus signed an agreement on the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Belarus. So far the agreement is only a declaration of intent and the fate of the Belarusian NPP has not yet been defined. Russia wants to be the co-owner of the Belarusian NPP, which is unacceptable for Belarus.
The “Atomstroiexport” and the “Management of a Nuclear Power Plant” (Belarus) signed an agreement on the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Belarus. Contractual arrangements define the basic provisions of the principal contract for the construction of two nuclear power units with a total generating capacity of it sB-941 reactors of up to 2400 megawatts in total. Atomstroiexport, a subsidiary company of Russia`s Nuclear Energy State Corporation (Rosatom), is to bear full responsibility for the project. The AES-2006 design has been selected for the plant.
Belarus expects to receive a USD 9 billion preferential loan from the Russian government for the construction of the NPP and infrastructure. Belarus would like to receive the loan for 25 years with deferred payment until the completion of the construction of the plant.
However, regardless of the signed agreement, the final cost of the project is still unknown. Also, neither party took the responsibility to voice the approximate dates of signing of the loan agreement. Terms and conditions of financing of the project have not been agreed either. Neither the schedule of expenses, nor the ditch has been prepared to the moment (though promised by summer).
Belarus expects to receive a USD 9 billion preferential loan from the Russian government for the construction of the NPP and infrastructure.
Sources in the Ministry of Energy say that there will be no final project cost, that Russia will open a credit line for Belarus in this regard of up to USD 10 billion. Russia wants to become the owner of the Belarusian nuclear power plant within the provided funding however, it is unacceptable for Belarus. The delay in signing of the loan agreement will affect the signing of all other contracts associated with the construction (e.g., concerning the equipment with a long production cycle (36 months or more)), which could significantly change the schedule of entry of the NPP in operation.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.