Parliament Endorses Russian Loan for Medzamor

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian parliament Wednesday approved terms of a $20.6 million Russian loan for the Medzamor nuclear plant.

The bulk of the money–to be released in several installmen’s by the end of next year–will be spent on purchases of Russian nuclear fuel–on which Medzamor has been dependent since its re-activation three years ago. An agreement on the loan was signed last December between the Russian and Armenian governmen’s. The debt’s repayment is due to begin in 2003 and end in 2008.

Medzamor was shut down under public pressure in 1989–shortly after a devastating earthquake in the north of the country. With financial and technical aid from Russia–Medzamor was reopened in 1995 to make up for severe energy shortages in Armenia–despite widespread safety concerns in the West.

The Armenian government has pledged to finally close it in 2004–even though the Medzamor management insists that the plant can operate longer. The plant currently generates roughly 35 percent of Armenia’s electrical energy.

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