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Hungary gets EU's OK to amend Russian nuclear plant contract

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the reactor hall of reactor unit number four of the Paks nuclear power plant in Paks

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary received European Commission approval to amend contracts for new reactors at its Paks nuclear power plant, awarded nine years ago to Russia's Rosatom, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday.

Hungary, which buys most of its energy from Russia, signed an agreement with Rosatom to build two reactors with capacity of 1.2 gigawatts each at Paks, which already has four reactors.

The project has experienced long delays, and Hungarian officials have discussed changing the contract to include a project management company to speed it up, though they have given few details about their plans.

"Yesterday we got the green light from the European Commission. The Commission has approved the contract changes of the new reactors to be built in Paks, both the construction and the financing contract," Szijjarto said in a Facebook video.

The 12.5 billion euro project was awarded in 2014 without a tender to Rosatom. Nuclear power is not covered by European Union sanctions against Russia imposed over the war in Ukraine, and Hungary has opposed expanding sanctions to include the sector.

Szijjarto said the original 2104 agreements for the reactors were rendered "somewhat obsolete" due to changes in the legal, technical and physical environment, without giving details.

In April Szijjarto met Russian government and Rosatom officials in Moscow to discuss changes to the contracts. He said the new reactors could start running at the start of the next decade, and larger-scale construction could begin soon.

(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Peter Graff)