IAEA experts, not Lithuanian politicians, should go to Astravyets – environment minister

Kęstutis Trečiokas
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

If Lithuanian government officials visited the site to see for themselves how safe it is and discussed this issue with Belarus’ president, the Minsk would use this for “propaganda” purposes, Trečiokas believes.

“They (Belarusians) would very much like this to happen. They would say that the neighbours have come and seen for themselves how well everything is being done there, and then we would be no more than a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Knowing the partners and their political rules, we should be very (careful). We want contacts, but there is a certain procedure, there is international practice. There would be no problem for us to arrange (a visit to the Astravyets site), but it would result in mere propaganda,” the minister told Žinių Radijas on Thursday.

“What we want, first of all, is not to go to see (Belarusian President Alexander) Lukashenko, but experts to be allowed in. Politicians will be able to do their job afterwards,” he said.

Trečiokas expects that incidents on the Astravyets site will give Belarus some food for thought.

“In a way, it is good that this incident happened. Perhaps they will realize that this is not so simple and that it is not wise to rush. The international community will at last pay more serious attention, too,” he said.

Trečiokas thinks that the Astravyets NPP is a geopolitical project and hopes that the facility, which Belarus is building just 20 kilometers from its border with Lithuania, will never go online.

The Belarusian Energy Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that “an off-nominal situation” had occurred on the site while moving the reactor vessel earlier this month. The media have reported that the 330-ton reactor was dropped from a height of several meters dropped during its installation into the reactor compartment on July 10.

Lithuania plans to send a diplomatic note to Belarus asking the neighbouring country to provide it with the results of its investigation into the incident.

Lithuania is the fiercest critic of the Astravyets project, claiming that Belarus fails to ensure safety at the plant under construction just 50 kilometres from Vilnius. Minsk rejects the criticism, saying that it will ensure the highest safety standards at the facility.

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