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Iran Offers To Supply Armenia With Nuclear Fuel

Armenia's Medzamor nuclear plant has been supplied by Russia.

Armenia's Medzamor nuclear plant has been supplied by Russia.

Ashot Ghahramanian, governor of the Armavir region in southern Armenia, has confirmed a report in the "Tehran Times" of July 27 that Iran has offered to supply Armenia with nuclear fuel for the Medzamor nuclear power plant, which is located in Armavir.

"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 daily quoted Qorbani as saying.

Ghahramanian told RFE/RL's Armenian Service on July 28 that Rahim Qorbani, the governor of Iran's West Azerbaijan Province, made the offer when Ghahramanian visited Iran last week to discuss boosting regional ties.

Ghahramanian said he told Qorbani that he is not empowered to accept the offer to purchase nuclear fuel but would refer it to Armenia's Energy Ministry. Ministry spokeswoman Shakeh Arakelian in turn told RFE/RL that "Armenia has received no official offers of nuclear fuel supplies from Iran, and no such discussions are taking place at the moment."

To date, Russia has supplied enriched uranium for Medzamor, but last year Armenia and Russia established a joint venture to develop uranium reserves on Armenian territory. Sergei Kirienko, who heads Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, predicted in 2007 that Armenia could become one of the few countries in the world with a full uranium-production cycle from extraction of the metal to its transformation into nuclear fuel.

The Armenian authorities plan to build by 2017 a new nuclear power plant to replace Medzamor, which was first commissioned in 1976, but mothballed for 5 1/2 years following the earthquake that devastated much of Armenia in December 1988. An Australian company, Worsley Parsons, recently won the tender for construction of the new plant at an estimated cost of up to $5 billion.

-- Sargis Harutyunyan and Liz Fuller

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.