Germany to help Ukraine stay nuclear

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder reversed the decision not to support construction of two new reactors for Ukraine, reported Daily Telegraph London. The unanimous motions against such assistance to Ukraine were passed earlier by the SPD (Schroeder’s Social Democrats).

On the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, Ukrainian President, Leonid Kuchma, said that the Chernobyl plant will operate until the West provides the money to complete two new reactors. Ukraine was to shut down Chernobyl’s last reactor by 2000 in exchange for funds promised from the seven leading industrial nations, the G7, for construction of two substitute reactors at Rovno and Khmelnitsky nuclear power plants.

Earlier, German leaders were sceptical toward the funding of Chernobyl replacements. The recent Schroeder announcement on German commitment to the project, caused furious protests from the Green coalition.

Schroeder says Germany is committed by a decision reached by the G7 nations before he came into office. The Chancellor is confident that this was the only way to ensure the final closure of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. His opponents say that building of gas-power stations instead would require half as much money and be safer.

Germany is committed to provide around $435 million. The total cost for the two reactors would be an estimated $1.2 billion.

Reactor no. 3 is Chernobyl’s last in operation. Number 4 exploded on April 26, 1986. Number 2 was shut down in 1991. Five years later, no. 1 was put out of operation.

Igor Kudrik

igor@bellona.no