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Hesitancy Cost Bulgaria Extra Money for Nuke Units Closure - Minister

Date: 28.12.2005

Bulgaria's euro-affairs minister called Wednesday for a united position on decommissioning the country's sole nuclear plant, saying hesitancy costs dearly.

"Bulgaria sent contradictory messages and acted hesitantly. This was the reason why it was not provided with extra money to decommission the nuclear power plant units unlike Slovakia and Lithuania," Minister Meglena Kuneva said.

In her words Bulgaria should take a final decision on whether to implement ahead what has been agreed in the EU accession treaty or renegotiate the deadlines for the nuclear units' closure.

Bulgaria will have to close two of its older nuclear power units by end-2006 in view of its EU accession. EU concerns over the safety of Soviet-designed 440-MW reactors of Bulgaria's only N-plant Kozloduy has hinged the country's EU accession in 2007 on their closure the previous year.

The decommissioning of the two oldest units at the end of 2002 came after strong pressure from the European Union, protests from the nuclear lobby and opposition parties that the reactors are economically necessary.

The minister assessed highly the country's progress towards accession, but voiced concerns over the delay in passing legislation on public procurements, concessions and corruption combat.

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