Armenian official says financial,technical problems must be worked o

Armenian official says financial, technical problems must be worked
out before decision on nuke plant closure

Associated Press Worldstream
June 9, 2004 Wednesday

YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenia’s trade minister said Wednesday that the
country will not set a specific time for its only nuclear power plant
to be closed until financial and technical questions are solved.

Armenia has been under pressure to shut down the plant due to safety
concerns; it was taken out of operation after a devastating 1988
earthquake and returned to service in 1995.

The economically troubled country has resisted shutting down the
plant out of concern that alternative sources of electricity may be
hard to come by.

Trade minister Karen Chshmartian said the European Union said this
month it was ready to provide Armenia up to 100 million euro (US$120
million) if the government decided to close the plant.

However, he said, developing other sources of electricity could cost
up to US$1 billion (1.2 billion euro).

Russia’s electricity monopoly assumed financial control of the nuclear
plant last year in a deal that Armenia sought to get out from under
massive energy debts to Russian fuel suppliers. The plant, however,
remains the property of the Armenian government.