16 January 2017, Monday, 14:01

Rosatom NPP in Belarus Is Originally a Political Project

Andrei Ozharovsky

It is not clear what "effective dialogue" Foreign Ministry hopes for with Lithuania.

Lithuania has announced a Special Ambassador to coordinate departments on construction of Rosatom NPP in Belarus. Other incident at the NPP construction site - impact of the vessel with a railway pole when transportation - initiated it. But reasons for such step are more complex.

Official Belarus has predictably accused Lithuania of "politization" of the matter. "If Lithuania needs a special coordinator in Foreign Ministry to negotiate more efficiently, it is its right and it can be only welcomed. If this position is established only for the purpose of further politicization of the issue and to delay discussions on international arena, which often have relation neither to nuclear issues nor to the energy or the environment, in this case, it is rather counterproductive," Dzmitry Mironchyk, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, said.

But the NPP construction issue was originally of political nature. Economic exposure and environmental hazard of the project was obvious from the very start. These issues are covered by the Conclusive Statement of the Public Environmental Expert Review of 2010 year.

The construction ground is political, not an economic one. The NPP is constructed to increase dependence of Belarus from Russia. Being the citizen of Russia I believe it is completely wrong. I stand for good-neighborly relations, and against intrigues and deception.

Unsustainable loan of $10 billion only increases financial dependence of Belarus from Russia. An inability to pay this loan may be one of risks that cause the loss of political independence of the country. If the NPP is completed, it will lead to dependency on supplies of Russian nuclear fuel and technologies. So, it seems that the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs let it slip; in general the atomic project is a political combination, it "does not relate neither to nuclear issues, nor the energy and the environment. And if the political interest of the authorities of Russia is clear, reasons for the involvement of Belarusian authorities in this adventure are questionable.

It is also clear why Lithuania strongly opposes implementation of the nuclear project, because the NPP locates near Vilnius, not near Minsk, Lithuania has justified concerns, because the threat of radiation accidents and nuclear disasters are real. Rush and numerous facts of violations of rules and regulations when the construction of the NPP only increase the probability of a catastrophic scenario.

In addition, the official Belarus itself has done much to politicize the NPP construction. Belarus has violated its obligations under UN Conventions - Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment (Espoo Convention) and the Aarhus convention on the access to environmental information and public participation in environmental decision making. Violations of the Conventions have been revealed not only in the framework of proceedings by procedural authorities, but also recognized at the highest political level, approved by decisions of the Meetings of Parties in Conventions in 2011 and 2014.

Violation of UN conventions is not coincidence, but a political step. The construction should not have been started before the completion of consultations with Lithuania within Espoo Convention. There should have been access to nuclear information and no violation of the Aarhus Convention. These steps of official Belarus have led to "politization", but not the reaction of Lithuania.

It is not clear what "effective dialogue" Foreign Ministry hopes for with Lithuania. It is required only to stop violations of international conventions. First, the construction near Astravets must be closed. Official Belarus will not take it, so the politization continues, as well as walks around this complex issue.

Andrei Ozharovsky, especially for charter97.org