Hungary licenses two new reactors at Paks nuclear plant

A general view of the turbine hall of reactor unit number four of the Paks nuclear power plant in Paks, 120 km (75 miles) east of Budapest, March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

BUDAPEST, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Hungary's nuclear regulator has granted a construction licence for two new reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant, which are to be built by Russia's Rosatom under a 2014 deal signed between Budapest and Moscow.

Despite serious delays, the project, awarded without a tender to Rosatom, has often been cited as evidence of warm ties between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a decision on its website late on Thursday, the Hungarian Nuclear Energy Authority said the existing Russian-built 2-gigawatt plant at Paks can be expanded with two new reactors, pending further licences.

Hungary aims to expand Paks with two Russian-made VVER reactors, with capacity of 1.2 gigawatts each. Nuclear energy is not subject to European Union sanctions.

The plans for the two new blocks at Paks serve Hungary's strategic interests, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after a meeting in May with Rosatom's chief executive.

The Paks plant now has four small Russian-built VVER 440 reactors with a combined capacity of about 2,000 megawatts that started operating between 1982 and 1987.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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