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Sunday, November 26, 2023

US ousts China from Romania nuclear project

Bucharest will gain access to "US expertise and technology", while a "multinational team" will take on the work of building the new reactors and refurbishing one of the existing ones

Washington’s energy ministry said Friday that the US would dislodge China as financier for two new reactors at Romania’s only nuclear power plant.

Romanian Energy Minister Virgil Popescu and US  counterpart Dan Brouillette had initialled a “draft intergovernmental Agreement to cooperate on the expansion and modernisation” of Cernavoda in Romania’s southeast, the US Department of Energy said in a statement.

Bucharest will gain access to “US expertise and technology”, while a “multinational team” will take on the work of building the new reactors and refurbishing one of the existing ones, it added.

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“Now we have a great clean American company, AECom, leading this $8 billion project, with assistance from clean Romanian, Canadian and French companies,” Washington’s ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman said at the signing event.

The deal would “unshackle” Romania from China’s “malign influence”, Zuckerman said, adding that “the communist party’s control of every Chinese company, domestically and abroad, poses an existential danger”.

Bucharest in June broke off its agreement with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) on the two new reactors, as distrust of Chinese investments in Europe grows. CGN had been the only company to bid when Bucharest put the project out to tender in 2014.

It has since then been added to a US blacklist of companies Washington accuses of trying to steal technology for military applications. Romania then pledged to find a new partner among its EU or NATO allies for the Cernavoda project, which it has struggled for almost a decade to get off the ground.

Read more: Nuclear Technology: China hits back at the US and condemns its policies

Six European companies — GDF Suez, Iberdrola, CEZ, RWE, Enel and ArcelorMittal — stepped back from the project one by one amid uncertainty over its future. The power plant’s two existing reactors together provide around 17 percent of Romania’s electricity supply.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk