Hungarian Nuclear Regulator Grants License for Russian-Built Reactors

The Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary

Hungary’s nuclear regulator has granted a construction license for Russia’s Rosatom to build two new reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant.

The approval has been criticized by many as tacit support of the Putin regime, with the suggestion that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is undermining EU unity following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Orban’s supporters point to the fact that the move forms part of a 2014 deal signed between Budapest and Moscow predating the current conflict.

Announcing the 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 licenses.

Hungary aims to expand Paks with two Russian-made VVER reactors, each with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts. The agreement does not break any EU sanctions, which do not apply to nuclear energy.

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

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, speaking in May following a meeting in May with Rosatom’s chief executive, said the plans for the two new blocks at Paks serve Hungary’s strategic interests