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Hungary receives nuclear fuel shipment by air from Russia

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Hungary received its first shipment of nuclear fuel by air from Russia for its Paks nuclear power plant since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which made it impossible to ship fuel by rail.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto announced the dispatch in a Facebook video from Brussels, Belgium.

Szijjarto said: “The fuel (for the Paks plant) has always come from Russia by rail via Ukraine. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible, so we had to find another shipping method.

Hungary has rejected the imposition of sanctions against Russian oil and gas, unlike several other European countries.

According to Reuters, the country had said sanctioning Russian energy would mean a “red line” for its nuclear energy activities.

Szijjarto added: “We have a red line: all activities related to the use of nuclear energy should be exempt from sanctions, as is the case with the transport of nuclear fuel by air.”

The nuclear fuel shipment arrived in Hungary via the airspace of Belarus, Poland and Slovakia after their approval, as nuclear energy was not part of the sanctions imposed by the European Union.

Xinhua quoted Szijjarto as saying that after the delivery, the operation of the power plant is resolved in the long term “so that we can also guarantee the security of Hungary’s energy supply in the next period”.

Hungary plans to add two VVER reactors to the 2GW Paks nuclear power plant. Each reactor will be manufactured by Russia and will have a capacity of 1.2 GW.

This project was awarded in 2014 without a call for tenders to the Russian nuclear company Rosatom, but has since been impacted by delays.

After being re-elected on April 3, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Hungary wanted to strengthen its alliances with the West, suggesting its future lay in the EU and with NATO.

Despite this, he said Hungary was ready to make ruble payments for Russian gas. This position is different from that of the EU, which opposed Russia’s request for ruble payment.

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