Bulgaria signs nuclear co-operation MOU with USA

29 October 2020

Bulgaria and the USA have signed key documents on 5G networks security and civil nuclear power.

Bulgarian Minister of Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova and US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher A Ford signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on strategic cooperation in civil nuclear power.

The signing took place in the presence of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined via video conference.

Borissov said that the US is an important strategic partner of Bulgaria in the energy sector, and promoting this partnership is a key element in the switch to a low-carbon economy. The Council of Ministers said in a statement that the MOU will encourage bilateral cooperation, “given Bulgaria's interest in new secure nuclear energy technologies for civilian purposes developed by the United States”.

The MOU also expresses the desire of Bulgaria and the USA “to cooperate in support of their nuclear industries in order to further develop and maintain the infrastructure and human resources capacity for responsible use of nuclear energy and technology”.

The Council said the goal of the European green deal “cannot be achieved without the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. For Bulgaria, nuclear energy plays an important role in national, regional and European energy security, while providing energy at affordable prices and is a key element in the transition to a low-carbon economy”.

The document commits Bulgaria and the USA to “the responsible use of nuclear energy and technology with an emphasis on human capital and labour development, education, training, to maintain the highest standards and practices in the field of nuclear safety and security”.

 Petkova said the MOU will give a new impetus and a good basis for future energy cooperation between the two countries. "The document will also contribute to the implementation of our main priority for achieving diversification of energy sources. Nuclear energy is of strategic importance to us, as it guarantees energy security and will contribute to achieving the goals of reducing carbon emissions," she said.

Bulgaria’s two operating Russian-designed VVER reactors at Kozloduy generate about one-third of the country’s electricity. On 14 October, Bulgaria’s government gave state-owned energy company Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) a mandate to start talks with US companies that develop nuclear technologies to study the options for the building of a new reactor on site.

Simultaneously, the  government is seeking investment in a 2000MWe nuclear plant at Belene involving the construction of two Russian designed VVER-1000 units.

Earlier this year the US announced a comprehensive Strategy to Restore American Nuclear Energy Leadership, which sent an important message to Central-Eastern European countries as well. Subsequently, the USA signed a deal on civil nuclear cooperation with Poland and a draft cooperation agreement with Romania for the refurbishment of one nuclear power reactor and the construction of two more at the Cernavoda.



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