VILNIUS – Lithuania will insist that Belarus implements all safety and security requirements before the launch of Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the country’s president Gitanas Nauseda has said in an interview to BNS on Wednesday.
The Belarusian government reported earlier on Wednesday that nuclear fuel for the first unit of the nuclear facility had already been delivered to the site.
Nauseda expressed his belief that Belarus would resist the pressure from Rosatom, the Russian corporation implementing the nuclear facility project, to step up the pace of project implementation at the expense of safety and security.
Lithuania’s president reminded of his recent conversation with his Belarus’ counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, whom he had urged to address the deficiencies identified during stress tests, and said that he had been assured that safety would not be compromised.
The steps taken by Belarus in implementing safety requirements would be decisive for the nature of bilateral relations, Nauseda pointed out.
Lithuania had been aware in advance that nuclear fuel would be delivered to the nuclear facility in the first half of May and its delivery, “by no means, does not mean that this power plant will be launched immediately thereafter”, Lithuania’s president said.
“Obviously, the safety of their people, their residents is important for them [Belarus’ government] and they truly want to achieve those safety standards that have been defined. The thing is, however, that we probably perceive those safety standards in a different way sometimes,” he noted.
Lithuania demanded that Belarus cooperated with the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) in order to ensure compliance with adequate safety standards, Nauseda said.
“My message was very clear, that it is basically not the issue of bilateral negotiations or cooperation between Lithuania and Belarus. It is the issue of the European Commission and the experts of ENSREG, the European nuclear safety regulator. The problem goes far beyond the border issues of the two countries, which means that Belarus’ cooperation with the EU and the global community is necessary,” he added.
“Now it is important to make sure that Belarus’ government does not succumb to that pressure put by Rosatom and the facility’s builders. That pressure has been put for several recent years and its purpose is very clear – the builders want to speed up the launch of the facility whereas those who are building the power plant are certainly also interested in its safety,” Nauseda said.
“My stance has been firm and it will never change: safety requirements and stress tests’ recommendations shall be implemented by – and I’ve emphasized that several times to president Lukashenko – the launch of the nuclear power plant and not at some point thereafter or in several years’ time,” Lithuania’s president pointed out.
“We’ll see whether they will have sufficient political will and will make sufficient efforts to implement these requirements as this will, of course, have an impact on the nature of bilateral relations and their intensity,” he added.