Kocharian Calls Nuclear Plant Strategic

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian called the Medzamor nuclear station a "strategic component" of Armenia’s energy system–speaking on Tuesday at a meeting of his consultative body–which oversees the power plant’s safety and comprises local and foreign nuclear experts.

The meeting of the Council of Atomic Energy Safety was convened for the third time since its creation two and a half years ago and discussed the present state of the Medzamor plant–re-activated in 1995 following a long halt.

Kocharian said a proper exploitation and assistance from abroad have since helped rule out "serious failures" at Medzamor.

"Armenia attaches great importance to nuclear safety issues and will continue to work in that direction," Kocharian was quoted by his press service as telling the meeting.

Kocharian said Yerevan will continue to finance measures to boost the plant’s safety–agreed with international nuclear agencies. Last month–Russia approved fresh supplies of much needed nuclear fuel to Medzamor in a $20.24 million credit line to Armenia. Moscow holds a 15 percent share in the plant as collateral for previous fuel loans.

Medzamor’s re-launch went ahead despite safety concerns of Western governmen’s.

In September–experts from an international organization uniting the world’s nuclear plant managers said Medzamor’s exploitation is meeting safety standards and poses no threat to the environment.

Earlier on Tuesday–Kocharian signed a decree relieving the council’s four members–Russia’s deputy minister of atomic energy and experts from Slovakia–Bulgaria and Belgium–of their duties–citing "some objective reasons."

Russia’s atomic agency will now be represented in the council by another deputy minister–Bulat Nigmatulin.

The nuclear safety council is chaired by Adolf Bierhoffer–a German nuclear scientist.

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