Overview Last updated: May, 2012
Independent between the two World Wars, Lithuania was annexed by the USSR in 1940. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, a proclamation Moscow did not recognize until September 1991. Vilnius is a member of NATO and the EU, as well as a number of treaties and organizations pertaining to WMD nonproliferation. Lithuania does not possess or produce nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, or ballistic missiles.
Lithuania is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), has an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Lithuania has only one nuclear facility, which is no longer operational. The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant consists of two Chernobyl-type 1,500 megawatt RBMK reactors. Unit 1 at Ignalina came online in December 1983 and Unit 2 came online in August 1987, while construction of Unit 3 was halted after the Chernobyl disaster. As a condition of Lithuania's European Union accession agreement, Vilnius shut down Unit 1 in December 2004 and Unit 2 in December 2009. In July 2000, Lithuania had rejected a Russian offer to lease or buy the plant. The EU provided funding to support the shutdown of Ignalina with 529 million euros in 1999-2006, and earmarked another 837 million euros for this purpose in 2007-2013. The Ignalina plant provided up to 80% of Lithuania's electricity generation and housed the last RBMK reactor in operation outside of Russia. On 18 October 1991 the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) established the Lithuanian State Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) to handle safety issues related to the Ignalina plant. The Lithuanian government approved its status as a regulatory and inspection agency under the Ministry of Energy on 21 October 1992.
Lithuania also upgraded its export control system as a condition for joining the EU. Improvements included the addition of a catch-all clause and a clause on control over intangible transfers and brokering activities, as well as applications to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has assisted Lithuania in developing its export control system. On 22 February 2011, Lithuania and the NNSA announced the signing of an Implementation Agreement on Cooperation in Preventing Illicit Trafficking of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material as part of NNSA's Second Line of Defense (SLD) program.
In February 2006, the leaders of the three Baltic states announced their support for an initiative to build a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania. The utilities of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania released a joint feasibility study in October 2006 calling for the construction of at least one new nuclear reactor of between 800 and 1,600 MW in Lithuania to replace Ignalina-2. In July 2008, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland agreed to set up the Visaginas Nuclear Plant Company to oversee construction of the new power plant with a planned capacity of 3,000 to 3,200 megawatts. According to Lithuania's Ministry of Energy, Lithuania and its regional partners will select a winning bid in summer 2011.
Lithuania acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in October 1998 and joined the Australia Group in June 2004. There is no evidence to suggest that Vilnius possesses or is developing biological weapons.
Lithuania does not possess or produce ballistic missiles and is a signatory to the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC). In August 2003, Vilnius submitted an application for membership to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
 "History," State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, 2011, www.iae.lt.
 "About us," State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, 2011, www.iae.lt.
 "Litva otklonyayet predlozheniye Rossii ne speshit s zakrytiyem Ignalinskoy Atomnoy Elektrostantsii," Interfax, No. 4, 20 June 2000.
 "European Commission: Lithuania Must Close Nuclear Power Plant by End 2009," Baltic News Service, 9 October 2008.
 "Lithuania shuts its only nuclear power station," BBC News, 31 December 2009, www.bbc.co.uk; Nerijus Adomaitis, "Lithuania to shut Soviet-era nuclear plant," Reuters, 31 December 2009, www.uk.reuters.com.
 Jurgis Bilemas and Detlev Reichenbach, Internationale Zeitschrift fuer Kernenenergie, atw 40. Jg., August-September 1995, pp. 530-531.
 Diana Medliene, ed., Valstybine Atomines Energetikos Saugos Inspekcija (1991-1996) (Vilnius: VATESI), 1996, pp. 4 and 8.
 "Lithuania Amends Export Control Legislation, Expands List of Embargoed Countries," NIS Export Control Observer, No. 2, February 2003, p. 3, http://cns.miis.edu; "Lithuania to Join Missile Technology Control Regime," Baltic News Service, 1 August 2003, www.bns.lt.
 Richard Talley, "Export Control Training Seminars in Latvia, Georgia, and Lithuania," NIS Export Control Observer, October 2004, http://cns.miis.edu; "Shvetsiya prodolzhit okazaniye pomoschi Litve v ukreplenii bezopasnosti Ignalinskoy AES," Interfax, 27 January 2000.
 "U.S., Lithuania Expand Cooperation to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling," National Nuclear Security Administration, 22 February 2011, www.nnsa.energy.gov.
 "Baltic utilities say new nuclear is best new capacity choice," Nucleonics Week, 26 October 2006.
 "Visaginas recognised with nuclear site name," World Nuclear News, 30 July 2008.
 "The Ministry of Energy: proposals from the potential Strategic Investors regarding the Visaginas NPP have been received," Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania, 1 June 2011, www.enmin.lt.
This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright © 2011 by MIIS.
Get the Facts on Lithuania
- Plans to build a 3,400 MW nuclear power reactor by 2020
- Works with the U.S. Second Line of Defense program to prevent nuclear trafficking
- Acceded to the BWC in 1998 and became a member of the Australia Group in 2004
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