Belarus expects skilled Armenian nuclear specialists to help run its
first nuclear power plant


YEREVAN, May 13. /ARKA/. The visiting president of Belarus, Alexander
Lukashenko, said today he expects Armenian authorities to send at
least a dozen of skilled experts to Minsk to help it run the first
Belarusian nuclear power plant, which is under construction.

"You have gained considerable experience in operating nuclear
facilities, and we expect that at least a dozen of skilled Armenian
experts will be dispatched to Belarus to help our experts to run the
facility in the first stages, `Lukashenko said during a joint
statement for the press after a meeting with Armenian president Serzh
Sargsyan.

Lukashenko added that Belarus is building its first ever nuclear power
plant, and it is interested in Armenia's experience in the field of
nuclear energy. He also noted that the two countries have a common
interest in sharing information on safe operation of nuclear power
plants and construction of new reactors.

After negotiations between presidents Sargsyan and Lukashenko the two
sides signed an Armenian-Belarusian intergovernmental agreement, which
among other things calls for exchange of information and cooperation
in nuclear safety and radiation protection.

Belarus is building a two-unit nuclear power plant in Grodno region
with a total capacity of 2.4 megawatts. The general contractor is the
Russian NIAEP - ASE company. The first unit is to be commissioned in
November 2018 and the second in July 2020.

Armenia's nuclear power plant in Metsamor located some 30 kilometers
west of Yerevan, was built in the 1970s but was closed following a
devastating earthquake in 1988 that killed some 25,000 people and
devastated much of northern Armenia. One of the plant's two VVER
440-V230 light-water reactors was reactivated in 1995. Armenian
authorities said they will build a new nuclear power plant to replace
the aging Metsamor plant.

The new plant is supposed to operate at twice the capacity of the
Soviet-constructed facility. Metsamor currently generates some 40
percent of Armenia's electricity. But the government has yet to
attract funding for the project that was estimated by a U.S.-funded
feasibility study to cost at as much as $5 billion. Last year the
Armenian government decided to extend the service life of the Armenian
nuclear power plant in Metsamor by another ten years.-0-


From: Baghdasarian