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US official: US vendors could supply fuel for Belarusian nuclear power plant

Nuclear safety drills in Lithuania, 2019 / Euroradio

The government in Vilnius may be left frustrated after the visiting US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Monday that the United States would stay out of Lithuania's dispute with Minsk over Belarus' nuclear power plant.   

"There is a reason that we have an International Atomic Energy Agency, and that agency's role is to make sure that facilities like that do meet international standards," Perry said. "So I would recommend to the leadership of Lithuania that [the IAEA] certainly be one of the ways that they [can] draw attention to this."

"Our goal is not negotiating the construction of the nuclear power plant in Europe, and I certainly would leave that to the leadership of the country and talking to the people in Belarus and the IAEA," the US official said, according to BNS

Assistant Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal told BNS that the US is calling on Lithuania and Belarus to maintain dialogue on the issue and mentioned that the US could supply fuel for Belarus' reactors.

"The US encourages Lithuania and Belarus to continue conversations and maintain transparency. I will say that VVER plants, similar to those being constructed in Belarus' Astravyets plant, have been operating worldwide safely," Baranwal said.

"In the future, the fuel could be provided in part by US fuel vendors. That is being done in some of these plants worldwide," she added, reports LRT.

The Lithuanian government says the Astravyets plant under construction some 50 kilometers from Vilnius fails to meet international safety standards, an allegation that Minsk denies.

President Gitanas Nauseda said after meeting with Perry that Lithuania hopes "that the US will actively engage in dialogue with Belarus to ensure nuclear safety of the Astravyets power plant."

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