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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 October 2007, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Belarus to 'build nuclear plant'
Alexander Lukashenko
Mr Lukashenko's ties with Russia cooled during the gas dispute
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko says his country needs to build a nuclear power station.

The creation of a domestic nuclear energy source was essential to guarantee "national security", Interfax news quoted Mr Lukashenko as saying.

Work on the reactor would start in 2008, he said. It is expected to be ready in four to eight years.

Belarus relies heavily on Russian gas for its energy, and rows over payments have prompted threats of supply cuts.

"Unfortunately, energy has been turned from a purely economic issue into a political one, into a factor affecting relations with other countries and with organisations," Mr Lukashenko was quoted as saying.

Belarus' nuclear plant is expected to cost up to $2.8bn (1.4bn) to build, with much of the money being raised through external borrowing.

Mr Lukashenko has enjoyed closer relations with Moscow than the leaders of other post-Soviet states such as Ukraine and Georgia - both of which also rely heavily on Russian gas.

All three countries have accused Russia of using its monopoly of energy supplies as a political tool.

Moscow denies the charge, arguing it has had to raise gas prices because subsidies granted during the Soviet era are being phased out.



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Timeline: Belarus
03 Oct 07 |  Country profiles



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