Belarus warns Lithuania on nuclear storage site near border

BOBRUISK, October 7 (RIA Novosti) - Belarus is ready to get involved in building a nuclear storage facility in Lithuania, but is opposed to its location near the country's border, President Alexander Lukashenko said Saturday.

Lithuania's Ignalina nuclear power plant, scheduled to be shut down by 2009, is similar to the one in Chernobyl, Ukraine, where the world's worst nuclear accident happened in 1986. Lithuania's prime minister said in early September it will build a new nuclear power plant to resolve an energy crisis expected in 2009 and meet the European Union's nuclear safety requirements.

"Belarus is ready to get involved economically, diplomatically and financially to address the matter of building a nuclear waste storage facility in Lithuania," Lukashenko said, adding his country was against the site being built near the Belarusian border.

He said Lithuania was going to build a facility to store nuclear waste from the Ignalina NPP five kilometers from the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.

"We have enough leverage to ensure that the facilities are not built near the Belarusian border," he said. "The decision to build [it] should be made by taking into account the interests of other states."

He said he hoped the two countries will resolve the issue "in a civilized manner."

Lithuania and Estonia dismissed earlier media reports that the Baltic states would build a joint storage facility for nuclear waste in Estonia.

Local media cited Estonian MEP Andres Tarand as saying that his Lithuanian counterparts had repeatedly suggested that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania would share responsibility for storing nuclear waste. The three Baltic states agreed to build a nuclear power plant in Lithuania by 2015.