Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Lukashenka: Belarus needs two nuclear power plants

Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on Tuesday that he would not hesitate to give the go-ahead for the construction of a second nuclear power plant in Belarus.

"If I had an opportunity to start the construction of a second nuclear power plant now, I would surely do so," he said at a meeting with students and faculty at Minsk-based Belarusian State Agricultural and Technical University. "But so far there is no contractor, no money and no country that would provide a loan for the construction. And we already have a site [for the plant]."

Mr. Lukashenka dismissed criticism of the ongoing construction of Belarus' first-ever nuclear power plant in the Hrodna region as a campaign organized by the European Union, namely the Baltic states. "They are already late, they have failed to build a plant of their own, they will be no competitors to us and they will have to buy our and Russian electricity," the government's news agency BelTA quoted him as saying.

"They have mobilized our fifth column to fight the construction of the nuclear power plant," he said.

Touching upon safety fears, Mr. Lukashenka said that Belarus was already surrounded by a "chain" of nuclear power plants. "We are already living in this dangerous zone. So what would be better: if [nuclear power] plants are built around us and we look at others' plants, or if we build a plant of our own?" he said.

European Union member states continue building nuclear power facilities but "don't want us to build a modern nuclear power plant and be their competitors," according to Mr. Lukashenka. "Moreover, they are losing markets for their products. And if electricity is cheaper, our goods will also be cheaper," he said.

Mr. Lukashenka stressed that the project was supported by an "overwhelming majority" of the public. "You will see soon that I made the right decision," he said.

He promised that the operation of the nuclear power plant would bring down electricity rates for households and businesses. // BelaPAN