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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 10:49 GMT
Lithuania plea for nuclear plant
By Laura Sheeter
BBC Baltic correspondent, Riga

Ignalina nuclear reactor
Ignalina started generating power in 1983
Lithuania says it wants the closure of a nuclear power station, scheduled for 2009, to be delayed until it can find another secure energy source.

Closure of the Soviet-era Ignalina power plant was a condition for Lithuania's entry into the EU in 2004.

Now Lithuania says it wants to renegotiate the timetable for closure.

With few natural resources of its own, Lithuania's leaders fear the country will find itself isolated if Ignalina is closed in 2009.

Half of the Chernobyl-style Ignalina plant has already been closed and the second unit is due to be shut down in 2009.

The Lithuanian government now says that will leave them without a secure source of power and they want to keep the plant open until they have something to replace it with.

Lithuanian Economy Minister Kestutis Dauksys said the country needed to decide now whether to build another nuclear plant to replace Ignalina.

Mr Dauksys said that a new plant could be completed by 2013 - but he added that he thought it would be very difficult for the country to persuade the EU that Ignalina should remain open beyond 2009.

Lithuania's prime minister and president have both expressed concerns about the country's energy security in recent days.

Lithuania has few natural resources and imports all of its gas and most of its oil from Russia.

Talks with Poland that would have given it access to the EU's electricity grid broke down a few days ago.

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