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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

First Iran, now Russia will Give Nukes to Belarus

The Moscow Times reports:

Belarus said Friday that it would hold a tender next year for the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant, which could cost up to $3.5 billion, and Russia signaled its interest. Belarus has virtually no energy resources and has quarreled with Moscow over the prices it pays for Russian gas, on which it relies heavily. President Alexander Lukashenko has long talked of diversifying energy sources, and on Thursday he pointed to Japan as an ideal partner for the nuclear project. "The government at the moment is doing preliminary work. We have offers from Western partners and we have an offer from Russia," Belarussian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky said after meeting his Russian counterpart, Viktor Zubkov, in Minsk on Friday. Earlier, Zubkov said Russia was "capable of offering the most pragmatic and safest way" of building a nuclear power plant. Russia's ambassador to Belarus has said Russia could provide a loan to cover the entire cost of the project. Zubkov also said it would make sense to revisit a proposal to build a second gas export pipeline to Europe through Belarus. "It is probably expedient once again to revert to the question of constructing a second link, but to do that we will need to tally all resources," Zubkov said. Sidorsky said he estimated that building the link could cost $2 billion to $3 billion. Gazprom has, however, abandoned the so-called Yamal-2 link across Belarus due to low demand in Poland. It is now focusing on a project to build the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

In other news, the President of Belarus is a rabid anti-Semite, it turns out. The Beeb has the details:

The president of Belarus has been called "anti-Semitic" after he reportedly blamed Jews for turning a town into a "pigsty". President Alexander Lukashenko allegedly made the remarks last week after hearing complaints from residents of the eastern town of Bobruisk. He added that he had been to Israel and seen that "Jewish people do not take care of where they live". Israel's foreign minister condemned the remarks as racist. "Leaders have a duty to fight anti-Semitism, which rears its ugly head in different places in the world, and not encourage it," Tzipi Livni said. Belarusian Jewish groups have warned of growing anti-Semitism in the country. They are alarmed at what they call the open publication of anti-Semitic brochures and books, desecration of Jewish cemeteries and closure of the republic's only Jewish university.

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