Viewing cable 04VILNIUS1315
Title: LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT SPLIT ON REACTOR CLOSURE

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04VILNIUS13152004-10-22 12:59:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 001315 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB (MGERMANO), EUR/ERA AND EB 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ENRG PREL LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT SPLIT ON REACTOR CLOSURE 
POSTPONEMENT 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1. (SBU) Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas announced on 
October 21 that the GOL would ask the EU permission to 
postpone the decommissioning of the first of the two Ignalina 
Nuclear Power Plant units.  Brazauskas said regional energy 
supply security justified the delay.  President Valdas 
Adamkus, however, spoke strongly against delaying 
decommissioning, and said that Lithuania must abide by the 
commitments it made to the EU.  The President has called a 
meeting of the State Defense Council for October 26 to decide 
whether the GOL goes forward with the request.  End Summary. 
 
¶2. (U) Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas announced October 
21 that the GOL had decided to ask the European Union to 
allow it to postpone the decommissioning of the first 
Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) Unit.  Under its EU 
accession agreement, Lithuania agreed to decommission the 
first unit by December 31, 2004, and the second by the end of 
¶2009. 
 
¶3. (U) Brazauskas said postponement is necessary to ensure 
uninterrupted power generation for Lithuanian consumers and 
the surrounding region.  The GOL is especially concerned that 
the delayed opening of a Kaliningrad reactor, expected to 
provide backup to Lithuania in the event of blackouts, calls 
into question Lithuania's energy security this winter. 
Current projections are that the Kaliningrad unit will be 
online in November 2005, more than a year behind schedule.  A 
new thermal power station in Riga, Latvia, will eventually 
provide backup to Lithuania's energy system as well, but will 
not be on-line before November 2005. 
 
¶4. (U) Though the Ignalina units are older Chernobyl-designed 
RBMK reactors, the USDOE has provided $10 million worth of 
security upgrades since 1996, and technical assistance from 
European countries and Japan has improved the safety of the 
reactor, extending the nuclear power plant's (NPP) 
operational capability beyond its natural lifetime.  The 
GOL's Nuclear Advisory Committee, which includes Western 
experts, assured the government last week that a six-month 
extension for Unit I would not adversely impact the NPP's 
safety.  In his announcement October 21, Brazauskas said the 
GOL would invite EU experts to meet with their GOL 
counterparts to consider arguments in favor of postponement. 
 
¶5. (SBU) President Adamkus spoke sharply against postponement 
October 21, telling the press that delaying the closing is 
"out of the question" and would counter Lithuania's 
international obligations.  Presidential Advisor Nijole 
Zambaite told us that the presidential office has been 
involved in ongoing discussions on postponement, but the 
Government's arguments have yet to convince him.  Zambaite 
indicated that Adamkus will hear out the Cabinet's arguments 
with an open mind at an October 26 State Defense Council 
meeting, before taking a final stand. 
 
¶6.  (SBU) Resident EU officials sent mixed messages in 
response to the Prime Minister's announcement.  Michael 
Graham, the Head of the EC Representative Office in 
Lithuania, took a hard line on national television, saying 
that Lithuania cannot postpone without first renegotiating 
its accession treaty commitments with the Commission and 
other member states.  His office later clarified to us that 
Brazauskas's announcement had taken Graham by surprise, 
because Lithuania had not raised the subject of potential 
postponement during the earlier accession negotiations. 
European Commission Transport and Energy Spokesperson Amador 
Sanchez Rico, reserving judgment, told the press that the 
Commission will review and analyze any GOL request to 
postpone. 
 
Comment 
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¶7. (U) The GOL decision comes against backdrop of concerns 
over the impact of the plant closing on the local economy 
around Ignalina, and over the past six months a few 
politicians have called for renegotiation of the reactor 
decommissioning.  MP and former presidential candidate 
Kazimiera Prunskiene and former President Paksas' Liberal 
Democratic Party campaigned on this issue during the recent 
presidential elections.  Prunskiene, who represents the 
reactor's district, expressed concern that approximately 68 
percent of the 3,592-member reactor workforce may face 
unemployment when both units shut down, since their highly 
specialized skills are not easily transferable.  On the 
political (and emotional) side, the recent Yukos crisis has 
also inspired renewed discussion of keeping Ignalina open (or 
building a new NPP) to reduce Lithuania's energy dependence 
on Russian oil and natural gas. 
Mull