Lithuania to close reactors

The first two reactors at the Ignalina nuclear power plant will be decommissioned by 2005. This is the first time the government has given a firm date for the closure of the Chernobyl type reactors.

The closure of the first reactor is expected to cost up to $2.5bn. The full cost of decommissioning could be as much as $4bn.

The closure of the units could help boost Lithuania`s chances of being invited for talks on entry to the EU.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has welcomed the decision of the Slovak government for closing the the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the Bohunice nuclear power plant in the period 2006-2008. The commitment is seen as meeting the Commission`s repeated request for early decommissioning of these units. The Commission added that by taking this decision, Slovakia had confirmed that the aim of EU membership constituted an overriding political priority.