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VILNIUS – The Astravyets nuclear power plant, under construction in Belarus close to the Lithuanian border, might negatively affect the reputation of nuclear energy worldwide, if it fails to adhere to safety standards and international conventions, Lithuania's energy minister says.
Zygimantas Vaiciunas paid the international community's attention to the Aastravyets project during the annual global energy forum in the United Arab Emirates, organized by the American think tank Atlantic Council.
"The future reputation of in fact the whole global nuclear energy depends on the resolution of this issue in Belarus. The way this project is being developed, despite Belarus, as a state, having such a right, does not satisfy us and does not comply with international conventions," Zygimantas Vaiciunas told BNS Lithuania.
In his words, the key thing is for Minsk to implement the recommendations on the so-called stress tests. Otherwise, doubts over the facility's safety will remain. The minister is convinced that the Atlantic Council forum is an influential platform where Lithuania's position on the nuclear power plant under construction near its border can be heard.
"This organization is important because practically all former US energy secretaries work for it. (…) Therefore, this channel is important, its opinion is listened to globally as well," Zygimantas Vaiciunas said.
Lithuania has been one of the most vocal critics of the nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus just 50 km away from Vilnius and says the facility is being built unsafely and in violation of international requirements, which Minsk denies.
The nuclear facility is being built just 23 kilometers away from the Lithuanian border, with two Russian-type 1,200MW VVER reactors set to be installed. The projects is being financed by the Russian government and implemented by the Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom. The launch of the first reactor is scheduled this year, with the second one due to come online next year.