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Lithuania Buys $1 Million Worth Of Iodine Pills As Belarus Prepares Nuclear Power Plant Launch

Lithuania says it expects to receive more than 4 million iodine tablets ahead of the planned launch of neighboring Belarus's first power plant later this year.

The Lithuanian government said the pills, estimated to be worth 900,000 euros ($1 million), are to be delivered by the manufacturer in a month, the Associated Press reported on August 19.

The tablets will then be handed out to citizens in case of a radiation leak at the Astravets nuclear power plant, which is being built with Russian assistance just 50 kilometers from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius

Iodine is often taken to protect the thyroid gland from some types of radiation.

The nuclear plant's first reactor is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of the year, and the second one is expected to go online in 2020. In total, the two Russian reactors will be capable of generating some 2.4 gigawatts of electricity.

The Lithuanian government has raised security concerns over the nuclear facility, and announced it was planning to purchase the iodine pills in preparation for its launch.

Lithuanian authorities have also established evacuation routes and are testing emergency sirens, according to the Interior Ministry.

The Baltic country of 2.8 million people closed its sole nuclear power plant 10 years ago.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and LRT TV