The Russian government will not invite Czech Rosatom to take part in security assessments before a planned tender for a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant, said industry minister Karel Havlicek on Monday.
The decision, which effectively excludes Russia from the multi-billion dollar tender, was announced two days after Prague expelled 18 Russian embassy staff, saying it suspected Russian intelligence was involved in explosions at an ammunition depot in 2014.
Russia dismissed the accusation as absurd; read more Rosatom called the decision to exclude it politically motivated and regrettable. We regret this decision of the Czech authorities, because the Russian and Czech nuclear industries had serious prospects for the development of a mutually beneficial partnership not only in the Czech Republic, but also in third countries through joint work, said it.
The Czech and European offers envisaged the participation of hundreds of Russian companies in the project of the Dukovany nuclear power plant expansion project, which could have included contracts worth billions of euros.
Thus, by excluding Rosatom from the tender, the Czech authorities are pushing their own national industry aside.
The row is the largest between Prague and Moscow since the end of Soviet domination of eastern Europe in 1989. The debate was already fierce over whether Russia should have a place in the tender for a new unit to replace the aging blocks at Dukovany, owned by the majority state-controlled utility CEZ.
The Industry Ministry announced a pre-qualification round in March as a security assessment for potential bidders before the launch of the tender which is expected after an election due in October after a new government takes office.
Havlicek said on Monday that invites for the assessments would be sent to the US-based Westinghouse, KHNP from France and the EdF from South Korea.
Even a consortium would be excluded from delivering key nuclear technology to Rosatom.
He reiterated that the next government would launch the tender and determine the list of bidders. The security services had previously warned of risks of Russian or Chinese participation.
Russian political parties agreed to exclude China earlier this year but, before the row with Russia, Havlicek and other state officials sought participation to keep the competition up.