Armenia Denies Discussions of Iranian Nuclear Fuel Offer

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Recent reports that Officials in Iran have offered to deliver nuclear fuel to Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power station have prompted the Armenian Energy Ministry to insist that no such discussions have ever taken place.

Ashot Ghahramanian, governor of the southern Armavir region, traveled to Iran’s Western Azerbaijan province and met with its governor, Rahim Qorbani, late last week to discuss ways of boosting ties between the two territories.

“In light of mastering the nuclear enrichment technology… the Islamic Republic of Iran is now ready to provide nuclear fuel for the neighboring countries’ power plants,” “The Tehran Times” daily quoted Qorbani as saying at the meeting.

Ghahramanian confirmed the information on Tuesday, saying that the offer was made after he mentioned the fact that Metsamor is located in Armavir and that the Armenian government plans to replace its aging reactor by a new and more powerful facility by 2017. “I replied that this issue is not within my area of responsibility,” he told RFE/RL. “It is dealt with by the government and the Energy Ministry and cannot be a subject of our discussion.”

Shakeh Arakelian, a spokeswoman for the Armenian Energy Ministry, meanwhile said that “Armenia has received no official offers of nuclear fuel supplies from Iran, and no such discussions are taking place at the moment.”

The Metsamor plant has received enriched uranium from Russia ever since it was built in the late 1970s. The situation might change after the planned development of Armenia’s uranium reserves by a Russian-Armenian joint venture set up a year ago. Sergei Kirienko, head of Russia’s Federal Agency on Atomic Energy, had said earlier that Armenia could become one of the few countries of the world with a full uranium production cycle from extraction of the metal to its transformation into nuclear fuel.

Iran’s nuclear program has been under international scrutiny over the past decade, with the United States and other Western powers accusing Tehran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranian leadership insists that it wants to use atomic energy for only peaceful purposes.

 

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