EBRD insists on closure of Armenia’s nuclear power plant


RIA Novosti, Russia
May 19 2004

YEREVAN, May 19 (RIA Novosti) – The European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development is going to set up a fund for financing the development
of alternative sources of electricity, EBRD president Jean Lemier
has said on Wednesday.

He has discussed the idea with officials in Armenia and they liked it,
he said.

The fund will finance small programmes costing from 0.5 to 1.5 million
euros in regions of Armenia. They will be, for instance, wind-powered
and small hydraulic stations, Lemier said.

The European Union demands mothballing of the Armenian nuclear power
station and is ready to allocate 100 million euros towards this end,
as well as creation of alternative sources of electricity.

The leadership of Armenia believes that the Armenian nuclear facility
should operate until the republic has enough supply of energy.

According to Vardan Khachatrian, Armenian Finance and Economic
Minister, the republic is working to create alternative sources
of energy for the event of the closure of the nuclear facility but
completion of such work will require about a billion euros.

The Armenian nuclear power station was initially halted in March
1989, less than a year after the devastating earthquake in Spitak,
Leninakan and other Armenian cities. The acute energy crisis in
Armenia restarted it in November 1995 when, after the truce concluded
with Azerbaijan on Nagorny Karabakh, Armenia actually found itself
in an economic blockade. The nuclear power facility’s second block,
having the Russian VVER-440 reactor of the first generation, produces
on an average from 30 to 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity. In the
estimate of experts, it can continue until 2016.

In September 2003 the government of Armenia passed the Armenian
nuclear power station in five-year trust management by Russia’s United
Energy Systems.