Belarus may offer leading nuclear power plant builders the right to build its first nuclear power plant (NPP) if it decides to implement the project without Russia involved, a Belarusian official told Interfax on Monday.
"If we decide to decline the services of Atomstroyexport, Belarus will make partnership proposals to internationally acclaimed companies, such as the Areva French company, U.S.-Japanese Westinghouse Toshiba or some others," he said.
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko said during his recent business trip to the Minsk region that Belarus might turn down Russian services because of contract disagreements and could "think about a new investor."
"It would be slightly incorrect to speak about a change of investor, because investments and a state loan are part of the partnership with Russia. If Belarus turns to companies from third countries, it will buy technologies, equipment and engineering components with loans taken from foreign banks," he said.
Such loans will obviously cost more than Russia's state loan, the source noted.
At the same time, Belarus may consider cooperating with Chinese or South Korean companies.
"We must remember that South Korean companies work by U.S. license and are largely dependent on the United States in obtaining orders from abroad," he said.
The last round of NPP negotiations with Russia has not started yet, the official said.
Belarus wants to commission two nuclear power units with total capacity of 2,400 megawatts in 2018. Russia's Atomstroyexport was named the general contractor.
The project cost estimate is nearly $9 billion.