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Armenia, Russia To Build Nuclear Power Plant

Armenia's Metsamor nuclear plant
Armenia's Metsamor nuclear plant
YEREVAN -- The Armenian government has unveiled plans to create a Russian-Armenian joint venture tasked with building a nuclear power station to replace the country's outdated nuclear plant, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

With a projected capacity of about 1,000 megawatts, it would be more than twice as powerful as the aging nuclear reactor in operation at the Metsamor power station. That reactor generates roughly 40 percent of Armenia's electricity.

Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said during a cabinet meeting that "We are making a political decision today.... We are agreeing to set up a joint venture with our Russian partners at a 50/50 ratio."

He said the plan fits into the strategy approved by the National Security Council to build a new nuclear power station, which would be set up by the Armenian government and Russia's state-run Atmostroyexport.

The new plant will have a Russian AES-92 pressurized light-water reactor with what Armenian Energy and Natural Resources Minister Armen Movsisian described as a "European safety certificate."

The total cost of the project is estimated at $5 billion, which is twice as high as Armenia's 2009 budget.

The initial capital for the Russian-Amenian venture is a largely symbolic 60 million drams ($156,000).

Movsisian has repeatedly said that Yerevan will find foreign investors for the project. He said in May that construction will start at the beginning of 2011.