Vilnius demands halt of Astravyets NNP in diplomat note to Minsk

  • 2023-03-31
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania's Foreign Ministry has handed over a diplomatic note of protest to Minsk, demanding that it immediately halts the operation of its Astravyets nuclear power plant being built 50 km from Vilnius until all nuclear safety problems identified by international missions are resolved.

Lithuania's move comes in response to information that Belarus is preparing to connect the nuclear facility's Unit 2 to the grid, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday. 

"Belarus prepares for the launch of the second defective nuclear power plant unit, keeping incidents and defects secret from the public, while the Russian president threatens to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus. It shows dictatorships’ irresponsible treatment of nuclear power and poses a nuclear threat to the entire region," Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said in a statement.

Belarus still needs to resolve safety issues affecting the NPP project, such as its impact on the environment and residents of Lithuania, ensuring a safety culture, and implementing international recommendations, the statement reads.

According to Lithuania's intelligence, Belarus concealed incidents and defects in the  reactor systems in the first and second units of the Astravyets NPP in 2022, resulting in the halt of the first unit’s operation for more than half a year and a delay of the launch of the second unit. More technical defects will likely be discovered when the second unit starts operating. In addition, Belarus fails to inform its neighboring countries about the actual state of the Belarusian NPP, which justifiably reinforces concerns of our institutions and feeds public fear, the ministry said.

The Astravyets NPP's Unit 1 was built in 2020. Lithuania, one of the nuclear facility's biggest critics, as well as international experts say the construction was carried out in flagrant violation of the existing technological and environmental standards.