IAEA Chief Addressing Safety, Assessment of Energy Needs in Armenia
Workers monitor the Metsamor plant from inside the operating room, Armenia. (Photo credit: Sophia Mizante for EurasiaNet)
Continued support to Armenia to help plan its energy needs has been committed by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei during a two-day visit, 27 – 28 July 2005, in which he met with the Armenian President, Prime Minister, ministers of Foreign Affairs, Energy, and Health, as well as the head of the Armenian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ANRA). The Director General also paid a courtesy call to His Holiness Karekin II Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians at St. Etchmiadzin. The Armenian Apostolic Church leader said the safe and uninterrupted operation of the Metsamor NPP was vital to Armenia.
In his turn Dr. ElBaradei presented the goals and the outcome of his visit to Armenia. In the course of the meeting the parties also discussed the challenges facing humanity, the need to strengthen moral values, and the importance of dialogue amongst religions.
Following a visit to the Metsamor nuclear power plant, the Director General said he noted many improvements in the operating Unit 2, but further steps must be taken to meet international safety standards.
Unit 2 of the plant, which provides over 35 per cent of Armenia´s domestic nergy needs, re-opened in 1995 after it was shut down in 1989 following an earthquake. Its first unit became operational in 1976 and the second in 1979.
Dr. ElBaradei offered Armenia continued IAEA support to complete the essential safety upgrading at the NPP and to revise an assessment of Armenia´s energy needs. Following the Government´s request, he also agreed to provide assistance for a feasibility study for a new nuclear power plant.
The Director General emphasized the need to coordinate the activities of all international and multilateral organizations providing assistance and help Armenia to upgrade and maintain the safety of Metsamor. He also requested the President and Prime Minister to strengthen the effectiveness of the regulatory framework, particularly by addressing staffing in ANRA and its reporting methods.
Dr. ElBaradei also visited a cancer treatment centre developed with IAEA assistance. The Minister of Health said that Armenia is now able to treat over 1500 cancer patients every year.