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Cablegate: Prague has Low-Key Response to Austrian Border

VZCZCXRO7977
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHPG #1483 3401412
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061412Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8321
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PRAGUE 001483

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/NCE EFICHTE,

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG SENV PREL PGOV EZ
SUBJECT: PRAGUE HAS LOW-KEY RESPONSE TO AUSTRIAN BORDER
BLOCKADE OVER NUCLEAR PLANT

REF: VIENNA 3482

1. SUMMARY. (U) Austrian opponents of nuclear power blocked
two border crossings with the Czech Republic on Sunday,
December 3, to protest the November 3 administrative
licensing of the Temelin Nuclear Power Plant. The
anti-nuclear protest was one of the largest since the plant
began trial operations at its first unit six years ago and
resulted in considerable media coverage and an MFA protest to
the Austrian Ambassador. However, the Czechs do not expect to
make any changes at the plant nor to elevate the dispute. END
SUMMARY

2. (SBU) The latest controversy was triggered by something
called a kolaudace, an official acknowledgment that a
building was constructed in accordance with a design approved
earlier. Although each of the units at Temelin has been
producing power for several years, the kolaudace for Temelin
was issued on November 3, 2006. The most recent bilateral
meeting between Czech and Austrian officials took place on
November 7. Milos Tichy from the Office for International
Cooperation at the State Office for Nuclear Safety, the
nuclear regulator, said it was one of the quickest meetings
ever, with very few questions or controversies. According to
Tichy, the Austrian officials didn't even raise the issue of
the kolaudace. Tichy added that there was a two-day
inspection tour of Temelin for the Austrians at the beginning
of September.

3. (SBU) Temelin is covered in the 2001 Melk Agreement
between the Czechs and the Austrians. Put simply, Melk says
the Czech side will fulfill a list of agreed security
requirements, and in return, the Austrians will prevent
political steps such as border blockades. Tichy points out
the Melk Agreement does not contain any mention of the
Kolaudace. Tichy explained his office feels that the
kolaudace is an administrative step that does not reflect any
change in the plant's safety status. He explained the safety
permits were issued many years ago, before any fuel was
loaded and any power produced. Tichy argues that nothing has
happened on the Czech side to violate the terms of the Melk
Agreement.

4. (U) The blockades, for one hour at the Gmuend-Ceske
Velenice crossing and for more than six hours at the
Wullowitz/Dolni Dvoriste crossing, received significant
coverage on Czech TV and in the national daily newspapers. On
December 4, Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas Pojar summoned
Austrian Ambassador Margot Klestil-Loeffler to discuss the
issue and request that the Austrians respect the fundamental
freedom of movement for people and goods. While unhappy with
the blockades, the Czechs, don't want to see this taken out
of a bilateral context and say they will resist any effort to
elevate the matter to the EU level. The Ministry of Foreign
Affairs made no mention of the blockade, or the diplomatic
meeting, on its website.

5. (SBU) Czech officials tend to see the blockades as a
domestic Austrian issue, though the anti-nuclear movement has
supporters on both sides of the Czech-Austrian border. Tichy
felt that this was the first time Austrians have publicly
acknowledged funding the Czech anti-nuclear group, "Jihoceske
Matky" or "Mothers Against Temelin," led by the Deputy Chair
of the Green Party, Dana Kuchtova. The Greens entered
parliament for the first time in June, 2006, with a publicly
declared position against nuclear power, though they have
made no progress on the issue.

6. (U) Temelin has two 1000MW pressurized water reactors,
making it the largest power plant in the Czech Republic.
Along with the nuclear plant at Dukovany, which has four
440MW reactors, the two have 3760MW of capacity and produce
more than 30% of the nation's electricity, some of which is
exported to neighboring countries, including Austria. By
contrast, the largest coal-fired plant, at Prunerov, has only
1490MW of capacity. Shutting down Temelin, and not even the
Greens are pressing for this, is not a realistic option in
the eyes of most Czech politicians.
GRABER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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