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Lithuania demands that Belarus should suspend construction of NPP

June 23, 2016, 8:46 UTC+3 VILNIUS

The Lithuania government would also like to dispatch experts who would monitor the stress test in Belarus as members of the IAEA Group

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VILNIUS, June 23. /TASS/. Lithuanian government insists that construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Ostrovets, Grodno region of Belarus, be suspended until a stress test if done and a mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provides assessment of the site selected for the nuclear industry facility, Vitalijus Auglys, a department director at the Ministry of Environment told reporters on Wednesday.

He said it upon the end of consultations of the two countries’ experts, who had examined the issues of safety of the new power plant.

"The Belarusian side itself should be interested in this (suspension of works - TASS) because it’s still unclear what the experts' recommendations will be like and how big an investment their implementation will require," Auglys said.

The Lithuania government would also like to dispatch experts who would monitor the stress test in Belarus as members of the IAEA Group.

A big amount of information on the Belarusian nuclear plant was presented in the course of consultations in Vilnius but the Lithuanian government would like to receive it by official channels as a separate document, Auglys said.

Minsk is prepared to conduct a fruitful dialogue, said Marina Filipyuk, the chief of international cooperation department at the Belarusian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection.

"Our experts answered the bulk of questions the Lithuania side had," she said. "Belarus is ready for cooperation on the problems of nuclear power. We invited Lithuanian representatives to Belarus for continuing dialogue."

She also said the stress test will be held presumably at the end of this year. Belarusian experts have given the assurances that the site near Ostrovets had been selected out of three options on the basis of the toughest possible criteria.

Lithuania is concerned by the power plant project, which Belarus launched in 2009. The Ostrovets site is located only 50 kilometers away from Vilnius "as the crow flies" and Lithuanian officials claim Minsk did not offer an assessment the plant might have on the environment.

They also suspect Belarus of reluctance to abide by international requirements in the field of nuclear safety. The Belarusian government, on its part, guarantees the observance of the highest safety standards.

In the meantime, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Wednesday his country observes all the international regulations in the process of building the country’s first nuclear power plant and it will not yield to pressures exerted by opponents of the project.

"We’ll make a great leap forward and will naturally be more competitive after we complete construction of the nuclear plant," he said while taking the floor at the All-Belarus Popular Assembly.

Lukashenko said Belarus was subject to outside pressures. "There’s a lot of talk about safety and a lot of unsubstantiated criticism" towards Belarus in connection with the nuclear plant project, he said.

"People must know this," he went on. "We know it and won’t kneel to others. We’ll build everything we planned to build."

"I’d like to state most unambiguously there are no claims against us as regards the authorized international organizations and the International Atomic Energy Agency in what concerns compliance with norms and procedures," Lukashenko said.

He recalled that about 2,000 new jobs would be created in the period of 2018 through to 2020 as two power units at the Belarusian nuclear plant come on stream.

"This (commissioning of the units - TASS) will mark a step to cheaper energy resources and consequently to greater competitiveness of all sectors of the economy - the manufacturing industries, transport, and the tertiary industry," Lukashenko said.

He feels confident Belarus should use the advantages of nuclear power engineering in order to set up a cluster of electricity-consuming industrial facilities.

"It’s important to form the conditions under which companies and individual customers would go over from the natural resources like gas and oil to the relatively cheap electric power," Lukashenko said.

"We must replace today the commodities we’re short of - gas, oil and so on - with electricity," he said. "We must prepared our economy and the people to enjoying an affluent supply of electric power," he said adding that precisely planned steps were needed to replace gas cookers with electric ones on private household or to make the cookers more efficient - the way they are in other parts of the world."

As he mentioned a possibility of exports of the electricity produced at the first nuclear plant, he said customers would appear if the product had fair quality and normal price.

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