Slovenia will be signing a memorandum of understanding on strategic civilian nuclear cooperation with the US, expressing the desire of both countries for deeper bilateral strategic ties, which would improve energy security, increase prosperity and strengthen political and economic ties, the Slovenian government announced.
The government stated that, on behalf of Slovenia, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec would accompany Foreign Minister Anže Logar on his visit to the US on Monday to sign the memorandum.
The Infrastructure Ministry has noted that Slovenia and the US have been cooperating well and intensively in the field of energy for years.
The countries share the opinion that civilian nuclear cooperation represents an important part of the general bilateral strategic relationship and may serve as a catalyst for additional cooperation in other matters of national importance, including national and energy security, the announcement notes.
It was added that the “US-Slovenian civilian nuclear cooperation could play a key role in facilitating energy supply security in Slovenia and NATO, and in meeting their energy needs and goals on clean energy, while providing significant auxiliary benefits for the energy security of the US and European allies.”
The signing of the document represents an important step and upgrade of what is otherwise traditionally good relations between the countries, including in the field of energy, the announcement adds.
The existing reactor at Slovenia’s Krško Nuclear Plant (NEK) was built by the US Company Westinghouse. Slovenia plans to build a second reactor in the near future.
Leon Cizelj of the Jožef Stefan Institute’s (IJS) reactor-engineering department regards the signing of the memorandum as an agreement in principle and exchange of information.
Speaking to the STA, he welcomed such talks and assessed that it would be wise to also hold them with other countries that might supply technology for a new reactor, including Russia, China, South Korea and France.
The US is able to offer a lot, he said, singling out Westinghouse when it comes to classic nuclear power plants. “The Americans are designers, developers; they deal with engineering, while the equipment is mostly produced in China.”
Slovenia has yet to take a decision on the construction of a new reactor at NEK, with its construction set for 2027 at the latest according to the latest plannings. The Ministry of Infrastructure states that Slovenia is and will remain a nuclear country.
The life span of the current reactor ends in 2023, while the planned 20-year extension of the operating permit requires an environmental impact assessment and environmental permit. /ibna