The diplomatic row between the Czech Republic and Russia could freeze Rosatom out of the international competition to build a reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power plant, a Czech minister said on Saturday.
The Czech government has expelled 18 Russian diplomats after claiming to have seen evidence that Russian secret agents were involved in the explosion at an ammunition depot in 2014.
Karel Havlicek, the minister for industry, told the Reuters news agency on Saturday: "These events of course can affect Dukovany tender. It is very serious news, any such act, should it be confirmed, must clearly have consequences."
The Czech Republic’s Office for Nuclear Safety announced last month that the way was clear to build up to two pressurised water reactors on the site.
Havlicek had stressed that Prague wanted as many bidders as possible to make the procurement competitive. The cost of the project is expected to be around €6bn.
It was reported in February last year that five bidders were likely to compete for the contract: China General Nuclear, France’s EDF, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, Rosatom of Russia and the US-based, but Canadian-owned, Westinghouse Electric Company.
Political parties in the Czech Republic later came to a consensus on excluding China General Nuclear, but were divided on whether to let Rosatom compete.
An official tender is expected to be launched toward the end of 2021, after a new government takes office following a general election in October.
Image: The Dukovany nuclear power plant is located near Brno in the south of the Czech Republic (Public Domain)