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U.S. Backs Plans For New Armenian Nuclear Plant

While neighboring Iran suffers to prove its right to Nuclear power, Russia, and now also USA not only support the idea of building a new reactor for the Armenian power plant, but also compete with each other on providing grants and assistance for the project. Is this one of the cases when “complimentarism” in Armenia’s foreign policy is actually working? RFE/RL has this to say:

In the most explicit endorsement yet of Armenia’s plans to build a new nuclear plant, the United States pledged on Wednesday to help the Armenian government conduct feasibility studies needed for the implementation of the multimillion-dollar project.

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Joseph Pennington, the U.S. charge d’affaires in Yerevan, said Washington, which has long been pressing for the closure of Metsamor’s sole reactor, supports the ambitious idea and will help Yerevan put it into practice.
“The U.S. government supports the building of a new plant not only to improve Armenia’s energy security but also because of continuing concerns regarding the safety of the existing nuclear plant,” Pennington said. “We look forward to the rapid replacement of the Metsamor facility with a more modern and safer plant.”
The diplomat spoke as he signed a memorandum of U.S.-Armenian cooperation on the issue with Energy Minister Armen Movsisian. The document envisages that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Armenian government will work together in preparing a feasibility study for the project and an assessment of the new plant’s impact on environment.
“This is an enormously complex and challenging task. But today’s gathering here marks the first significant step in that process,” Pennington said. The US government will spend $2 million on financing the planned studies, he added.

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The Armenian government is already looking for foreign investors interested in financing the project estimated to cost at least $1 billion. A top executive of a Russian atomic energy firm said last month that it is already discussing with Yerevan the possibility of building a new 100 Megawatt nuclear reactor at Metsamor.

By Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant

2 replies on “U.S. Backs Plans For New Armenian Nuclear Plant”

There is a lot of politics in all this — and when the time comes it may be too late to highlight the strings attached to all this.
If $1billion could be raised for Armenian energy needs that would be more than enough for 1000 Megawatt worth of wind turbines, or at least set up a local factory that would manufacture those. EU is very intereseted to sponsor suc kind of development in Armenia both in terms of money and the know-how, yet Kocharian administration has remained deaf to such proposals.
What’s more is that I see the decentralised energy production and distribution, above all as a security measurment, as well as an issue of economic empowerment of communities. A centralised power production source such as Metsamor or any other new NPP is going to be a constant security risk, nevermind environmental risk
In similar news, the law about Turkey’s plans to build it’s own NPP comes into effect today. The $7-8 billion project is estimated to be completed by 2011-2012. I wonder what USA has got to say about this — most probably yet another manifestation of its hipocrisy.

The implications for this can be two-fold:
1. the NPP will have to be built using by a Western or a Russian company or a combination of both. This generates revenues for them. If a US company is involved, that will be an opportunity to jump start and test the US nuclear technologies for future deployment in the US itself.
2. Armenia will most definitely borrow the capital needed. That way Armenia becomes dependent upon the creditors for a very long time. Add to that the fuel purchases and you end up with a docile country.

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