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Slovakia: Meeting To Be Held In Vienna On Safety Of Nuclear Plant

Bratislava, 15 June 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Slovak officials travel to Vienna this week (June 19) to discuss safety concerns at the Mochovce nuclear plant, according to an Austrian Foreign Ministry official.

Austrian officials, including Austria's ambassador to the United Nations, are expected to attend the meeting to be held at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Austrian Foreign Ministry official Helmut Wessely, director of the Ministry's Transport, Energy and Environment section, emphasized to RFE/RL that Austria wants "good relations" with its neighbors. Wessely denied reports Vienna would withdraw its ambassador in Bratislava following activation of fuel rods at Mochovce on June 8.

He said Slovaks have a right to decide on how to meet their energy needs and that Vienna would not dictate to Bratislava.

Safety, however, is a prime concern to the Austrians, because the Mochovce plant is located close to the Austrian border.

Wessely said two visits to Slovakia by nuclear experts, including one last month, were "a great courtesy" extended by Slovakia. But, he said needed information on the reactor shell was not provided by Slovakia during last month's inspection. Therefore, he said, officials from the two countries will meet at the IAEA offices Friday to further discuss safety issues.

"Our point is that Mochovce must be safe and comply with Western standards," Wessely said.

The Mochovce plant represents significant East-West cooperation on nuclear development. The $900 million cost of construction was financed by German, Czech, French, Russian, as well as Slovak loans.