Text of report in English by Lithuanian news website ELTA on 31 March
Vilnius, 31 March: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania reports it has sent a note of protest to the Foreign Ministry of Belarus, strictly insisting on the immediate suspension of the Belarusian NPP project until all nuclear safety issues identified by international missions and review processes are resolved.
The ministry's reaction was elicited by the information that Belarus is preparing to launch the second unit of its nuclear power plant (NPP) - physically launching the reactor and planning to connect to the power grid about.
"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 is cited as saying in the ministry's press release.
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.
On 9 March this year, the Department of State Security and the Second Department of Operational Services under the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania published the assessment of threats to national security, noting that Belarus concealed incidents and defects in reactor systems in the first and second units of the Belarusian 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 neighbouring countries about the actual state of the Belarusian NPP, which justifiably reinforces our institutions' concerns and feeds public fear.
"Numerous incidents, strange occurrences, suspensions, equipment failure and a climate of opacity have steadily afflicted the Russian state-owned company Rosatom's project. Therefore, Lithuania will continue raising the issue of imposing sanctions on Russia's nuclear power sector and the state monopoly Rosatom," Lithuania's foreign minister said.
Belarus' decision to construct the Astravets NPP on the site, which is only 40 km away from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, violates international nuclear and radiation protection and environmental requirements. It is also incompatible with the principles of openness and transparency.
According to Landsbergis, Lithuania will continue taking all possible measures to protect the safety and well-being of its residents as long as the Belarusian NPP is operating in Astravets.
Source: ELTA, Vilnius, in English 1143 gmt 31 Mar 23