Lithuania wants nuclear future after Ignalina

3 January 2003 - Lithuania has no plans to abandon nuclear power despite agreeing to EU demands for the closure of its controversial Ignalina nuclear power plant, said President Valda Adamkus Thursday.

A way must be found to build a new, modern nuclear reactor," Adamkus said in a statement. "It is an ecologically clean way of producing electricity."

Lithuania is among the ten countries recently invited to join the EU but has pledged to close one of Ignalina's reactors by 2005 and the other by 2009. The EU has promised &euro:30m in 2003 towards the closure of the reactor, which is of the same Soviet design as the ill feted Chernobyl plant. A further €285m of EU money will go into a special Ignalina programme in 2004-2006.

In a TV debate on Thursday night President Adamkus said that he regarded nuclear power as the cleanest and cheapest power available and "absolutely needed for Lithuania's economic future." Adamkus wanted a new facility to provide electricity both to Lithuanian industry and for export. Lithuania is the world's most nuclear-dependant country with 77.6 per cent of all its electricity coming from Ignalina.

"I don't think it will violate our international commitments, since I clearly told leaders of all the EU countries in a closed session that Lithuania is not renouncing atomic energy in the future and we will do everything to be able to build a modern reactor," Adamkus told the Baltic News Service earlier in the day.

Adamkus said a working group to develop concrete proposals for the project should be established, adding he had already consulted on the issue with French and German experts as well as large companies to see whether there was any interest for developing a new nuclear facility. Adamkus expected no support from the EU in developing a new reactor.

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