YEREVAN — The Armenian government will pay a Russian company up to $65 million to modernize the Metsamor nuclear power and extend the life of its sole operating reactor until 2036.

The funding will take the form of a “budgetary loan” to be provided to the state-owned plant’s management. The latter will sign a relevant contract with Rusatom Service, which is part of Russia’s Rosatom state nuclear agency.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s cabinet formally approved the contract during a weekly session held on Thursday. It said Rusatom Service will carry out the upgrade of Metsamor from 2023-2026 in close coordination with Armenian nuclear energy specialists.

The Metsamor reactor, which generates roughly 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity, went into service in 1980 and was due to be decommissioned by 2017. Armenia’s former government decided to extend the 420-megawatt reactor’s life by ten years after failing to attract funding for the construction of a new and safer nuclear facility.

Russian and Armenian specialists essentially completed Metsamor’s first major modernization in 2021. Armenian officials have since repeatedly said that the Soviet-era facility, located 35 kilometers west of Yerevan, can safely operate until 2036.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, praised those safety upgrades monitored by the UN nuclear watchdog when he visited Armenia and inspected Metsamor in October 2022.

 

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