Skoda helps Bushehr

30 June 1999

The Czech engineering company, Skoda Plzen, is completing negotiations to provide nuclear consultants to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. Skoda spokesman Karel Samec said discussions centred on consulting work only.

“In no case will we be supplying nuclear components or technology to Iran,” he insisted. Samec said negotiations looked “very lucrative” for the company and the deal, which is likely to involve other companies, could be worth an estimated $200 million. It would include a supply of steam turbines and cooling and ventilation systems from undisclosed Czech companies as well as nuclear know-how from Skoda.

The news elicited a cautious response from Michael Zantovsky, chairman of the United States Senate’s foreign affairs, defence and security committee, who warned that cooperation with Iran always implies risks.

Jocelyn Greene, the US Embassy spokeswoman in Prague, said Washington did not support Czech-Iranian nuclear cooperation.

In a related move, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan announced that the Czech Republic is also considering participating in a tender for constructing a nuclear power plant in North Korea. Kavan said Czechs would participate in the project under the auspices of the Korean Energy Development Organisation (KEDO); the Czechs have been members since February 1999.

Meanwhile Russian-Iranian nuclear co-operation continues. A group of 38 Iranian nuclear technicians have begun training at Atomtekhenergo’s Novovo-ronezh training centre. MINATOM is contracted to provide training for most of the staff of the Bushehr nuclear power station over the next three years.

Over the past 27 years the centre, which has five full-scale nuclear power plant simulators, has trained more than 12 000 nuclear specialists from many countries. Despite failure to sign the nuclear test ban treaty, the centre will soon train people from India and China.

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