Armenia to shut Metsamor, join Angarsk

30 November 2007

[Associated Press, RIA Novosti, 29 November] The Armenian government has approved the closure of the country's sole nuclear power plant. No date has been given when the Soviet-designed VVER-440 nuclear unit at Metsamor will close. Operations at the plant, which started up in 1979, were stopped following an earthquake in 1988, but it was restarted in 1995 due to energy shortages. Armenia has since faced international pressure to shut the plant due to safety concerns and possible design flaws. The design of the Metsamor plant is much the same as those which the European Union (EU) insisted be shut down before Bulgaria and Slovakia joined the EU (though it is adapted to be robust seismically). The EU has pledged to provide financial assistance to Armenia in return for closing the plant. The Metasmor plant, which supplies over 40% of the country's energy needs, had previously been scheduled to be shut down in 2016. The announcement of Metasmor's closure came a week after the USA said it would help Armenia with preliminary studies for the construction of a new nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, the Armenian government has also approved a proposal for the country to become a partner in the international uranium enrichment centre in Angarsk, Russia. The centre would also be responsible for the disposal of radioactive waste. Russia and Kazakhstan have already agreed to set up the centre, while Ukraine has said it intends to join the project.

Further information

WNA's Nuclear Power in Armeniainformation paper

USA supports new nuclear build in Armenia
WNN: International enrichment centre agreement signed
WNN: Armenia: 'No alternative' to nuclear energy