Romania will invest €8-9 bn to build the two new plants, which should be ready by 2030, Mr Orban said.
“As soon as possible, after we establish a team at government level to explore the best options, we will negotiate and sign agreements to start these fundamental investments for Romania,” local press reports quoted Mr Orban as saying.
Earlier this year state-controlled nuclear energy producer Nuclearelectrica terminated an agreement signed with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) for the construction of Units 3 and 4.
In January Mr Orban announced that the government would exit the deal with CGN.
Neither Nuclearelectrica nor the government has said why Romania cancelled the deal with CGN. Press reports in Romania said CGN has been criticised by Romania’s “strategic partners” over security issues tied to the use of Chinese technology. Reports also said there had been “cost concerns” related to the project.
According to press reports, cooperation between Nuclearelectrica and CGN became uncertain after Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis and US president Donald Trump signed a joint declaration in Washington last year that called for closer cooperation between US and Romania in nuclear energy.
In August 2019 the US added four Chinese nuclear entities to a trade blacklist, accusing them of helping to acquire advanced US technology for military use in China. The four were CGN and its subsidiaries China General Nuclear Power Corporation, China Nuclear Power Technology Research Institute Company and Suzhou Nuclear Power Research Institute Company.
Last month shareholders in Nuclearelectrica approved a new investment strategy for 2020-2025 that included proposals to go ahead with the completion of two new units at the Cernavodă at an estimated cost of €6.45bn.
Cernavodă has two commercially operational Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and built under the supervision of a Canadian-Italian consortium of AECL and Ansaldo.
Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1996, after work had been suspended on a further four units in 1991. Unit 2 was subsequently completed and began commercial operation in 2007. Efforts to resume work on Cernavoda-3 began in 2003.