"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