Decisive action is needed to ensure that EU sanctions do not impinge on Russia’s nuclear sector, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, said on Wednesday, adding that sanctions of this type would harm Hungary’s national interests as well as global nuclear security.
Noting that the tenth sanctions package is being finalised in Brussels, Szijjártó told a joint press conference with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, that any kind of restrictions that affected nuclear cooperation with Russia must be fought against resolutely.
“We must act decisively against any listing of Rosatom and its officials,” the minister said, saying that sanctions imposed on nuclear energy or Rosatom would “harm Hungary’s fundamental national interests” as well as threaten global nuclear security. Szijjártó accused “two green ministers of the German government” of hampering the supply of German control technology for the new blocks of Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant “without any legal” grounds.
He said that only countries which can produce a significant part of their own energy needs would be strong, given the volatile global energy market, its politicisation, and skyrocketing prices. For Hungary, that meant “cheap, sustainable and safe” nuclear energy, he said, adding that Europe and the world can only achieve their environmental goals with nuclear energy in the mix.
“So Hungary is committed to increasing the use of nuclear energy…” he said, adding that the expansion of the Paks plant adhered to “the highest safety standards”.
Szijjártó welcomed the IAEA’s “rational approach based on common sense” and expressed his support for Grossi’s efforts to establish a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Warnings about the risks of a nuclear accident also prove that the Hungarian argument calling for immediate ceasefire and peace talks is right, he added.
“Let’s not forget that every day, while the war lasts, carries the risk of a nuclear incident or nuclear accident,” Szijjártó said. “We who remember Chernobyl would like to avoid this taking place here in central Europe,” he added.
In response to a question concerning speeches by the US and Russian presidents on Tuesday, he said: “They would have done a far greater service to humanity had they talked to each other.” “We are in the 25th hour, and this war must end immediately,” Szijjártó said. “If there is no immediate ceasefire and the peace talks do not start immediately, there could be great trouble,” he added.
Commenting on obstacles raised by the German government to the transport of control technology required for the expansion project in Paks, he said a consortium of Siemens Energy and Framatome had received the commission. If Berlin renders the German company’s participation impossible, then increasing the role of the French partner must be discussed, he said.
“It is somewhat wild that a nuclear power station could be built in the European Union with control technology from the two strongest European countries and the German government currently risks it that it might have to be replaced by Russian technology,” he said. “Is that a rational move by the German government?” At the same time, he added that there was no issue regarding the quality of Russian technology considering that Rosatom was a leading company in the global market.
“I hope that one day somebody will be brave enough in the German media world, where media freedom is obviously fantastic, to ask one of the two ministers what is the reason for this behaviour,” he said.