Armenia’s energy system should be based on nuclear power – expert

Armenia’s energy system should be based on nuclear power – expert

Azg, Yerevan
1 Apr 04

Nuclear energy should be the core of Armenia’s energy system, the
director of the Russian research institute for nuclear energy has told
the Armenian newspaper Azg. Prof Armen Artavazd Abaghyan said that
Armenia has no oil, gas or coal resources, instead it has problems
with importing fuel from abroad. For this reason, Armenia should
become a nuclear state like Japan, he said. The following is an
excerpt from Ruben Ayrapetyan’s report by Armenian newspaper Azg on 1
April headlined “Armenia should become a nuclear power”. Subheadings
have been inserted editorially:

A real war for energy resources is going on in the world today. How is
nuclear energy developing against this background and is there a
larger interest in the sector? What are the prospects for nuclear
energy? The director of the Russian scientific research institute for
exploiting nuclear power stations, the vice-president of the
Rosatomenergo [Russian atomic energy] concern, a member of the Russian
Academy of Sciences, Prof Armen Artavazd Abaghyan answers these and
other questions.

Merciless struggle for energy

“It is a fact that a merciless struggle for oil is going on in the
world,” Prof Abaghyan said. “But the thing is that there are volumes
of crude oil, natural gas and coal which remain accessible sources of
energy. So one cannot say that against the background of all this,
atomic energy is developing quickly. The nuclear sector is developing
at a different pace in various countries: intensively in China, India,
Korea, Japan; moderately in Russia and slowly in Europe. But there is
no doubt that more importance will be attached to the role of atomic
energy, for the natural resources will run out at some point.
Unfortunately, people’s character is unchangeable and they will not do
anything about it until the situation becomes really critical. In this
respect, we do not have to go too far. I guess people have not
forgotten the difficult days of the early 1990s (energy crisis), when
the Armenians closed down the nuclear power plant without thinking of
its consequences. Later, they had to reopen it due to economic,
ecological and housekeeping problems. This is what will happen when
oil and gas resources are exhausted.”

[Correspondent] But uranium resources are also limited, aren’t they?

[Abaghyan] It is not really so. At present, atomic energy is extracted
mostly from the fission of uranium-235 which accounts only for 0.7 per
cent of the natural composition.

[Passage omitted: Details of nuclear fission; Russia is disposing of
nuclear waste products]

Nuclear energy should be the core of Armenia’s energy system

[Correspondent] Let’s talk about the energy sector of Armenia. You
have always been a devoted proponent of developing nuclear energy in
our country, and have made a great contribution to this issue. Has
anything changed in your position?

[Abaghyan] No. I really thought and still think that nuclear energy
should be the core of Armenia’s energy policy and the greatest
attention should be paid to it. I frequently repeat that we should
face up to severe realities: Armenia has no oil, gas or coal, but
instead, it has serious transport problems (with importing fuel from
abroad). For this reason, Armenia should become a nuclear state, like
Japan, for instance. The second bloc of the Metsamor Nuclear Power
Plant can operate till 2031.

[Correspondent] But there is external pressure demanding its closure.

[Abaghyan] That is already politics. And politics, as we know, are not
an exact science, and it is not my sphere. I base my statements on
scientific, technological and economic realities.

[Correspondent] What about rehabilitating the first bloc of the
Armenian Nuclear Power Station?

[Abaghyan] Time goes by and its operation requires more funds that
Armenia does not have. The matter should have been dealt with in time,
though not everything has been lost yet.

[Correspondent] Russia has acquired the major energy generating
stations of Armenia, and RAO YeES [Unified Energy Systems of Russia
Joint-Stock Company] is currently the managing company of the Armenian
Nuclear Power Station. I don’t know what this means. But I have a
question: If Russia ever becomes the holder of the controlling block
of shares of the Nuclear Power Station, will then the “tone” of the
European Union change in this matter? For Russia is not as small as

[Abaghyan] Everything is possible. Right now, I am not very
well-informed about the political-legal nuances of the contract on
managing the Nuclear Power Station. Maybe I will have a clearer idea
of the issue after I meet the Armenian president in Yerevan within the
framework of the Nuclear Security Council.