Minister without portfolio appointed to oversee Paks nuclear project

April 26, 2017

MTI Fotó: Bruzák Noémi

A minister without portfolio has been appointed to oversee the planning, construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at Hungary’s Paks nuclear plant, reports state news wire MTI.

President János Áder (above center) appointed Paks mayor János Süli (above left) to the position, taking the task out of the hands of Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár, who had overseen the development of the Paks II project until now. Lázár will still represent the Hungarian government in negotiations with the European Union over the expansion, with the cooperation of Süli.

According to index.hu, the new minister without portfolio will be responsible for the implementation of all aspects of the bilateral agreement on the Paks deal between Hungary and Russia, including the planning of the two new blocks and related procurements and implementation, the operation and maintenance of the new reactors, and the provision and safety of nuclear fuel materials.

He will also be responsible for the coordination of various ministries in the implementation of the agreements, and the cooperation with authorities concerning licensing and permissions.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said during an April 10 parliamentary session that he intended to appoint a minister to oversee the planned expansion of the nuclear facility. However, only Hungary’s head of state, President János Áder, can appoint ministers. Orbán can only nominate them.

Áder’s appointment of Süli to oversee the Paks II project on April 26 comes as a dark irony: the date is the 31st anniversary of the nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, at the time the world’s worst nuclear disaster.