Armenia: 'No alternative' to nuclear energy

12 April 2007

[ARKA News Agency, Today's Zaman, 11 April] "A long-term assessment of the uptrend in natural gas prices until 2025-2030, as well as possible rates of rise in prices for nuclear fuel, shows that Armenia practically has no alternative to the construction of a new nuclear power unit," according to the country's Deputy Minister of Energy, Areg Galstyan. Armenia faces international pressure to shut down its existing Soviet-designed Metsamor nuclear power unit - a first-generation VVER-440/270 pressurized water reactor - as soon as possible, but has made it a condition that a replacement power unit of identical capacity is constructed. Galstyan said, "All the measures to put the power unit out of operation must not affect the development of Armenia's energy sector and economy." He said that forecasts suggest the country will need a 1000 MWe capacity unit by 2016 and a second unit after 2020. Meanwhile, Turkey has written to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demanding action and stronger international pressure on Armenia to shut the Metsamor plant because of safety concerns. The Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) claims that measuring stations in Igdir and nearby Kars province have recorded increased levels of radioactivity, which TAEK attributes to the Metsamor plant. Turkey is also concerned about fuel deliveries to the plant, which are conducted by Russian-made aircraft with poor safety records. In the face of increasing international pressure, Armenia has transferred part of the plant's shares to Russia.

Further information

WNA's Early Soviet Reactors and EU Accession information paper