MINSK -- Belarus says it has postponed the full launch of its Astravets nuclear power plant being built by Russia by two years to 2022.*
The plant, located near the Lithuanian border, was scheduled to be launched in full during the fourth quarter before a cabinet order on October 6 delayed it.
Built by the Russian state firm Rosatom and financed by Moscow with a $10 billion loan, the project is opposed by neighboring EU member Lithuania, whose capital, Vilnius, is just 50 kilometers away.
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are moving to a full decoupling from their Soviet-era common power system by 2025.
Lithuania has already banned all electricity imports from the Astravets plant, citing concerns about safety and national security.
Belarus has rejected suggestions that the plant poses a risk and has insisted it meets all safety standards.
The loading fuel into the 1.2 gigawatt water-water energetic reactor (VVER) at the plant began in August.
Construction of a second reactor is scheduled for completion in 2022 and will double the plant's capacity to 2.4 gigawatts.