Iran and Bulgaria discuss nuclear cooperation

12 July 2016

Iran and Bulgaria have agreed to exchange experience in nuclear energy, Bulgaria's cabinet of ministers announced yesterday, following a meeting in Tehran between Bulgarian energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova and deputy prime minister Tomislav Donchev with Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov and Iran's First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri (Image: Bulgarian Cabinet of Ministers)

The statement did not mention the Belene nuclear power plant project by name, but Bulgarian media quoted Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borisov as saying that he had held talks with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on the possibility of Iran buying reactor equipment Russia had produced for the project. The suggestion is that Iran could buy the equipment for a second unit at its Bushehr nuclear power plant. Bushehr 1 is a Russian-built VVER V-446 pressurised water reactor unit, which began commercial operation in September 2013.

Petkova reportedly discussed with Salehi the International Court of Arbitration's ruling last month in favour of Russia's Atomstroyexport (ASE) over its claim for compensation after Bulgaria cancelled the Belene plant it had been contracted to build. The Bulgarian Energy Ministry has stressed however that the Court ordered the payment of half of the total sum the Rosatom subsidiary had sought to receive.

Bulgaria's National Electricity Company (NEK) awarded ASE the contract to build two 1000 MWe reactors at Belene, on the Danube River near the Romanian border, in 2006. The Bulgarian government scrapped the project in 2012 amid difficulties in attracting investors to the $10.5 billion project.

In response to the Court's decision, Petkova said ASE was to be compensated for the cost of equipment it had produced for the plant only. All other claims, including damages and lost profits for related expenses incurred outside its contract with NEK, had been ignored by the Court, the minister said. ASE's had claimed a total of €1.2 billion ($1.34 billion).

Following talks yesterday, Bulgaria has offered to provide Iran with expertise in the storage of used nuclear fuel and in the operation of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News