The Czech government postponed a tender to build a $7 billion nuclear reactor until after October elections and said it won’t invite Chinese companies to participate in a security assessment of potential bidders.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s cabinet sees the reactor as necessary to give up coal and meet the European Union’s environmental goals. After years of disputes over who should foot the bill, the latest plan hit a snag after the country’s intelligence services warned that including Russian and Chinese suppliers would pose a security risk for the NATO member state.
“Before the start of the tender, we decided to add another phase of a detailed security assessment of all participants,” Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlicek said in a statement on Thursday. “The final decision will be on the next government that will, thanks to this step, have maximum information.”
The move won’t derail the planned timetable for building the new unit at the Dukovany power plant, which is owned by state-controlled utility CEZ AS, between 2029 and 2036, according to the ministry.
CEZ will ask Electricite de France SA, Russia’s Rosatom Corp, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corp. and Westinghouse Corp. to provide information including ownership structures, possible bidding groups and cybersecurity standards by the end of November.
The government didn’t give a reason for leaving out Chinese CGN Power Co., which was initially expected to be among possible bidders. The Chinese embassy in Prague had earlier protested against signals about excluding CGN from the tender.
Babis had already floated the possibility of postponing the start of the tender until after the elections. President Milos Zeman, who is Babis’s ally and a supporter of economic ties with Moscow and Beijing, has urged the government to include all possible bidders to secure the best price.