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Lithuania

Overview

Last updated: March, 2016

 Lithuania does not possess or produce nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, or ballistic missiles.

Independent between the two World Wars, Lithuania was annexed by the USSR in 1940. On March 11, 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 has one nuclear power plant, Ignalina, which is currently being dismantled, and is also planning to build a new nuclear power plant, Visaginas. [1]

Nuclear

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 consisted of two Chernobyl-type 1,500 megawatt RBMK reactors. [2] 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. [3] As a condition of Lithuania's European Union accession agreement, Vilnius shut down Unit 1 on December 31, 2004 and Unit 2 on December 31, 2009. [4] In July 2000, Lithuania had rejected a Russian offer to lease or buy the plant. [5] The Ignalina plant provided up to 80% of Lithuania's electricity generation and housed the last RBMK reactor in operation outside of Russia. [6]

Since the shutdown of Unit 2 in 2009, work at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant has focused on dismantlement. In the first five years of this process, almost 22,000 tons of equipment and physical structures were dismantled – just short of 17% of the total work required (129,700,000 tons). [7] It is hoped that the complete decommissioning of the plant will be completed by 2038, with the reactors fully dismantled by 2035. [8] The European Union, member states of the European Commission, several international Ignalina decommissioning-specific funds, and the Lithuanian government have been the primary funders of this project. [9] Sales of decommissioned materials have also provided almost 7.8 million euros (27 million litas) for further decommissioning activities from 2010-2014. [10]

In addition, construction continues at Ignalina on storage facilities for spent fuel. Since the power plant first went online, spent fuel has been stored in interim storage ponds near the reactor. [11] When the facility was constructed, it was anticipated that the spent fuel could be returned to Russia – a system that was never implemented as a result of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. [12] Instead, interim facilities were constructed that would be able to hold the spent fuel safely for up to 50 years. [13] These facilities, however, are unable to hold the volume of spent fuel necessary. [14] As a result, both a new Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility (B1-ISFSF) and new Solid Waste Management and Storage Facilities (B234-SWMSF) were commissioned in 2005 as part of the broader dismantlement effort at Ignalina. [15] Following some delays, the new Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility is expected to begin the final stage of testing in July 2016 and to be completed by October 2017. [16]

On October 18, 1991 the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) established the Lithuanian State Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) to handle safety issues related to the Ignalina plant. [17] The Lithuanian government approved its status as a regulatory and inspection agency under the Ministry of Energy on October 21, 1992. [18] In response to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, in 2011 the European Council called for the review of all European power plants. [19] Accordingly, VATESI conducted a stress test on Ignalina and the country's two spent fuel storage facilities and released its findings in 2011. [20] A December 31, 2014 report on the progress of implementing the recommendations of the stress test, as well as those made by a peer review conducted by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group in 2012, concluded that all have either been implemented or are currently ongoing. [21]

Lithuania has also worked to upgrade its export control system as a condition for joining the EU. In 2004, Lithuania joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group and became a part of the International System of Non-proliferation Export Control Regimes when it joined the EU. [22] The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has further assisted Lithuania in developing its export control system. [23] On February 22, 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. [24]

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 EstoniaLatvia, 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 and reduce the Baltic States' dependence on imported Russian electricity and natural gas. [25]

The Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant is a proposed 3rd-generation 1,350 MW general capacity advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) to be operated by the Lithuanian company Visaginas Atomic Energy Project (VAE). [26] The power plant is intended to allow Lithuania to be fully energy independent by 2020. [27] After receiving the preliminary plans for the facility, the European Commission approved the project in 2012. [28] A few months later, on October 14, 2012, a non-binding referendum was conducted on the proposed plant, with over 60% of participants voting against construction of the new nuclear power plant. [29] Nonetheless, Seimas members from all political parties noted their continued approval of the project in a March 2014 accord on security and defense priorities. [30]

On July 30, 2014, the Lithuanian Energy Ministry signed an agreement with the Japanese nuclear company Hitachi to develop a Project Company to operate Visaginas. [31] According to Lithuania's 2007 Law on the Nuclear Power Plant, a Lithuanian national investor must own no less than 34% of the shares of any new nuclear power plant and possess no less than 34% of the votes of the general shareholders. [32] In addition to Hitachi, Latvia and Estonia are expected to be joint minority owners in the plant, though both countries have declared they will invest in the project only if it will be profitable. [33] Latvia and Estonia now await more information on the expected returns of a potential investment. [34] There is currently no estimate of when construction will begin.

Biological

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.

Chemical

Lithuania is a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and joined the Australia Group in June 2004. There is no evidence that Vilnius possesses or seeks to develop chemical weapons.

Missile

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).

Sources:
[1] "Technical Data," State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, accessed 24 June 2015, www.iae.lt; "About the Project," Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant, accessed 24 June 2015, www.vae.lt.
[2] "Technical Data," State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, accessed 24 June 2015, www.iae.lt.
[3] "History," State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, 2011, www.iae.lt.
[4] "About us," State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, 2011, www.iae.lt.
[5] "Litva otklonyayet predlozheniye Rossii ne speshit s zakrytiyem Ignalinskoy Atomnoy Elektrostantsii," Interfax, No. 4, 20 June 2000.
[6] "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.
[7] "Approximately 22 Thousand Tons of Equipment was Dismantled in Ignalina NPP," Press Release, State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, February 18, 2015, www.iae.lt.
[8] "Approximately 22 Thousand Tons of Equipment was Dismantled in Ignalina NPP," Press Release, State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, February 18, 2015, www.iae.lt.
[9] "Spain Ambassador to Lithuania: 'Nuclear Power Plant Decommissioning is Much More Complicated Process than the Construction of It,'" Press Release, State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, April 30, 2015, www.iae.lt; "Financing," State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, accessed June 24, 2015, www.iae.lt.
[10] "The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant Has Earned More than 7 Million Litas for Decommissioning Activity," Press Release, State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, January 13, 2015, www.iae.lt.
[11] "Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage," Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant, accessed June 24, 2015, www.vae.lt.
[12] V.V. Penkov and R. Diersch, "The Dry Spent RBMK Fuel Cask Storage Site at the Ignalina NPP in Lithuania," Proceedings from the International Symposium on Storage of Spent Fuel from Power Reactors (Vienna: IAEA, 1999), pp. 103-109, www.iaea.org.
[13] V.V. Penkov and R. Diersch, "The Dry Spent RBMK Fuel Cask Storage Site at the Ignalina NPP in Lithuania," Proceedings from the International Symposium on Storage of Spent Fuel from Power Reactors (Vienna: IAEA, 1999), pp. 103-109, www.iaea.org.
[14] Burkhard Koenning, Jose Fernandez Puga, Johannes Rausch, Ronny Ziehm, "Nuclear Waste Management Treatment Facility and Spent Fuel Storage at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant - 9192," Proceedings from Waste Management Symposium 2009: Waste Management for the Nuclear Renaissance (Tucson: Waste Management Symposia, Inc, 2009), pp. 3986, www.wmsym.org.
[15] Burkhard Koenning, Jose Fernandez Puga, Johannes Rausch, Ronny Ziehm, "Nuclear Waste Management Treatment Facility and Spent Fuel Storage at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant - 9192," Proceedings from Waste Management Symposium 2009: Waste Management for the Nuclear Renaissance (Tucson: Waste Management Symposia, Inc, 2009), pp. 3986, www.wmsym.org.
[16] "Project B1," State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, accessed 25 June 2015, www.iae.lt; "Project B2/3/4," State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, accessed 25 June 2015, www.iae.lt; "Relevant Comment," Press Release, State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, March 3, 2014, www.iae.lt; "INPP Gains Project Management Tools by Signing the Project B234 Contract Amendment," Press Release, State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, December 19, 2013, www.iae.lt.
[17] Jurgis Bilemas and Detlev Reichenbach, Internationale Zeitschrift fuer Kernenenergie, atw 40. Jg., August-September 1995, pp. 530-531.
[18] Diana Medliene, ed., Valstybine Atomines Energetikos Saugos Inspekcija (1991-1996) (Vilnius: VATESI), 1996, pp. 4 and 8.
[19] State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate, "National Progress Report on 'Stress Tests,'" Republic of Lithuania, September 15, 2011, www.vatesi.lt.
[20] State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate, "National Progress Report on 'Stress Tests,'" Republic of Lithuania, September 15, 2011, www.vatesi.lt.
[21] State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate, "Implementation of Plan of Strengthening Nuclear Safety in Lithuania Status Report," Republic of Lithuania, December 31, 2014, www.ensreg.eu.
[22] "Nuclear Power Safety in Lithuania: Activity Report 2014," State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI), 2015, www.vatesi.lt.
[23] Richard Talley, "Export Control Training Seminars in Latvia, Georgia, and Lithuania," NIS Export Control Observer, October 2004, www.nonproliferation.org; "Shvetsiya prodolzhit okazaniye pomoschi Litve v ukreplenii bezopasnosti Ignalinskoy AES," Interfax, 27 January 2000.
[24] "U.S., Lithuania Expand Cooperation to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling," National Nuclear Security Administration, 22 February 2011, www.nnsa.energy.gov.
[25] "Baltic utilities say new nuclear is best new capacity choice," Nucleonics Week, 26 October 2006; "About the Project," Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant, accessed 24 June 2015, www.vae.lt.
[26] "The Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant Project," Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant project, 14 August 2012, www.vae.lt; "About the company," Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant project, accessed 25 June 2015, www.vae.lt.
[27] Ministry of Energ, "European Commission gives a favorable opinion on the Visaginas NPP," Press release, Republic of Lithuania, June 12, 2012, www.enmin.lt.
[28] "Construction of New Nuclear Power Plants in Europe," Hitachi Review 64, No.3, (March 2015), pp. 63.
[29] "Breaking News - results of the parliamentary elections and the referendum in Lithuania," ru.DELFI.lt, October 14, 2012, ru.delfi.lt.
[30] Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Accord between the political parties represented in the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania on strategic guidelines for the foreign, security, and defense policy of the Republic of Lithuania for 2014-2020, March 29, 2014, www3.lrs.lt.
[31] "Government of Lithuania came to an agreement with Hitachi to discuss for establishment of the Project Company for Nuclear Power Project," Hitachi News Release, July 30, 2014, www.hitachi.com; "Construction of New Nuclear Power Plants in Europe," Hitachi Review 64 No. 3, (March 2015), pp. 63.
[32] Republic of Lithuania, Law on the Nuclear Power Plant, June 28, 2007, www.oecd-nea.org.
[33] "Lithuanian government rumored to consider building nuclear plant without Latvia and Estonia," DELFI: The Lithuanian Tribune, April 15, 2015, en.delfi.lt; "Estonia and Latvia still waiting for profitability assessment of Lithuanian NPP," DELFI: The Lithuanian Tribune, April 10, 2015, en.delfi.lt.
[34] "Estonia and Latvia still waiting for profitability assessment of Lithuanian NPP," DELFI: The Lithuanian Tribune, April 10, 2015, en.delfi.lt.

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

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury 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 2016.