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Sofia lauded for scrapping Belene plant

April 2, 2012 at 9:09 AM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, April 2 (UPI) -- Washington congratulates Bulgaria for its decision to scrap plans with Russia to build a nuclear power plant in Belene, the U.S. secretary of state said.

The Bulgarian government said last week it was ending plans for the 2,000 megawatt nuclear power plant planned on the Danube River.

U.S. diplomatic cables from February 2009 leaked to WikiLeaks and published by London's Guardian newspaper reveal German energy company RWE was reluctant to take part in the construction of a nuclear plant because of transparency concerns.

RWE pulled out of the Belene power plant in October 2009, giving funding issues as its official reason.

The government of Bulgaria halted more than 20 years of work on a $5.3 billion nuclear power plant in 2010 because of funding shortages. Construction was halted in the 1990s because of environmental protests but resumed in 2004.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted by Bulgarian news service Standart as saying she welcomed the decision.

"I congratulate you for this decision," she told Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov on the sidelines of meetings in Istanbul. "I realize it was a hard decision Bulgaria's Cabinet had to take."

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said during the weekend the decision long overdue.

"It does not make any sense to continue circling around something that has started 33 years ago, both sides know that," he was quoted by the Sofia News Agency as saying.

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