Medvedev to Visit Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Russia’s President will travel to Yerevan on Monday for a two day official visit with the country’s top leadership

Medvedev’s trip will coincide with the disbursement of $10 million from Russia to implement a series of security projects on Armenia’s Nuclear Power Plant at Metzamor.

According to the Director of Armenia’s Nuclear Power Plant, Gagik Markosian, the financial aid will be provided to Armenia through Russia’s nuclear agency, MAGATE. This is the first time Russia has provided Armenia with such a large sum of financial support, Markosian said.

Work on the projects, financed by MAGATE, will start in 2009, with the details still awaiting approval as technical discussions on the project continue.

Markosian said that studies are scheduled to be conducted at the power plant to determine the primary security issues facing the aging Soviet-era facility. The results of the findings will be used for “increasing the security level of the Armenian Atomic Power Plant,” with the support of MAGATE, which will be coordinating international support and aid distribution for Metzamor.

Since 1996, a total of $90 million has been provided to Armenia by donor-countries to bolster security in Metzamor’s second reactor.

The Metzamor plant has been in operation since 1976. Armenia relies on the Soviet-built plant, 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of the capital Yerevan, for 40 percent of its electricity needs. The European Union has requested with Armenia to close the ageing plant, which is in an area prone to earthquakes, and in 2004 offered to provide 100 million euros ($148 million) in compensatory aid.

But Armenian officials say their landlocked and resource-poor country cannot afford to do without the plant, which also provides electricity for export to neighboring Iran.

The nuclear plant’s two reactors were shut down temporarily in 1988 because of a major earthquake, but one of them resumed operating in 1995 to help stave off a national energy crisis.

"The station was shut down on September 5 at midnight and will be launched again on November 29. There will be repairs, refueling, and some measures aimed at boosting security," Movses Vartanian said.

The United States has backed plans for a new Armenian Nuclear Plant and has pledged to help the Armenian government conduct feasibility studies needed for the implementation of the multimillion-dollar project.[6]

On November 29, 2007 the Armenian government approved a plan to shut down the nuclear power plant, but gave no specific date. According to Energy Minister Armen Movsisyan, the shutdown could cost up to $280 million. While the former President Robert Kocharyan said that building a new, 1,000-megawatt plant, double that of Medzamor, would cost more than $3 billion.

The new plant will likely be located at Metsamor, Markosian said, adding that the new station will have to produce roughly 1000 megawatts of electricity to meet Armenia’s energy deman’s.

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