New Belarus reactors will be safer than Japanese, Putin says

Minsk/Kiev - Russian-engineered nuclear reactors planned in Belarus will be substantially safer than those in Japan, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

'The level of protection will be substantially higher than in Japan, and that's not taking into account that Belarus is not in a seismic fault zone like Japan,' Putin said in comments reported by the Belarus state news agency Balta.

Putin was in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Tuesday for a trade and energy summit with his counterparts from Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Russia's Atomstroyeksport plans to build a nuclear power station near the Belarusian city Astravets with the first reactor set to come on line in 2016 and as many as four reactors operational by 2025.

'These (the Atomstroyeksport reactors to be installed at Astravets) will be of the very latest technology ... in Japan, the reactors are 40-year-old American technology,' Putin said. 'We are proud of our (Russian) technology.'

The Astravets station would be located in Belarus' north-west near Lithuania.

Atomic energy opponents have said accident at Astravets could pollute much of west Europe in a repeat of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power disaster.

Putin made the remarks at a press conference after meetings with Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Miasnikovich and Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov.

The three government leaders discussed energy transportation, cooperation in aerospace, customs coordination, and strategies for a joint application for membership in the World Trade Organization, news reports said.

Putin was expected to have one-on-one talks with President Aleksander Lukashenko on the status of Russian nationals who have been jailed in Belarus since anti-government demonstrations in December.


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