Armenia Rebuffs EBRD Demand to Close Nuclear Station

YEREVAN (Interfax)–The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s demand that Armenia close its nuclear power station in 2004 is unjustified–Suren Azatian–president of the private company that runs the station–has told journalists.

The station’s service life is that of its reactors–30 years. The reactors have been in operation for about 13 years–during 1980-89 and then since November 1995 until now–he said. "Consequently–they can operate for 17 years more," Azatian said.

"We checked the power units twice and sent the findings to the International Atomic Energy Agency for licensing. Today there is no technical reason to close the station in 2004. That deadline is arbitrary," he said.

The closure of the station cannot be discussed until alternative stations are available–Azatian said. "We had a bitter experience of closing both of the Armenian Nuclear Power Station’s power units in 1989 without having found a replacement and were hit by a fierce power crisis in 1992-95," he said.

The EBRD has repeatedly said it is prepared to allocate 10 million ecus within the framework of the TACIS program for improving the station’s safety–on the condition that the station be closed in 2004–Azatian said. "The bank has been dragging its feet on financial aid. At this rate we will not have the promised 10 million ecus until 2004," he said.

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