It now looks like an agreement is in place to let Russian natural gas shipments to the West resume with independent monitors from the European Union in place, but those have been blocked completely since Thursday (8 January) and it will take about a further three days to resume full service. In the meantime, unfortunately, the continent has suffered under a bitter cold spell, so that the political pressure from freezing constituents has already reached the breaking-point – I wouldn’t really call it the “boiling-point” – in Slovakia. As a number of press outlets report, among which Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel, Slovak premier Robert Fico announced at a Saturday evening televised press conference that his country would bring back on-line the atomic reactor at Jaslovské Bohunice that it had just shut down before the end of 2008.
Gee, why did the Slovaks go and close that reactor in the first place a few weeks ago? Namely because doing so, and doing so permanently by the end of 2008, was a provision in the accession agreement by which the country became a EU member-state back in 2004 in the first place. With the Jaslovské Bohunice reactor we’re talking in fact about the very first nuclear reactor in the former Czechoslovakia, whose construction began back in 1958 although it first went into operation only in 1972. Naturally, then, it’s a reactor built in the Soviet style, which in the light of such incidents as Chernobyl raised safety concerns to such a degree that the EU insisted that Slovakia eventually shut it down. (more…)