ABU DHABI — Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear plant is safe enough to continue its operations in the years to come, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said on Tuesday.
“The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant is following the safety recommendations and guidance from the IAEA. This is very important. There have been important refurbishments done at the facility which were found to be indispensable, so we can continue operating, there will be an extension of the licensing of the plant for a few more years and we are satisfied with the way in which they have been implemented,” Grossi told Armenpress news agency at COP28 in UAE.
On Turkey’s latest request seeking to shut down Metsamor alleging that the facility is unsafe, Grossi said that the IAEA has absolutely no plans to close the Armenian NPP and that operations can continue. The IAEA chief noted that countries having ‘certain issues’ with their neighbors around the world tend to file such complaints to the IAEA.
“Well, we listen to everybody. The IAEA is a global organization, so we listen to everybody. And when it comes to this kind of concerns, we explain what we are doing, we give the assurances that everything is being done correctly. I would tell you, it’s not the only case, in some other parts of the world where neighbors have certain issues, countries come to me and say ‘what is happening in my neighbor’, so we take it seriously but we give the answers, the most important thing is that Armenia continues to work seriously with us and reinforces the safety of the facility and we are very confident,” Grossi said.
Asked whether the IAEA plans to close the Armenian NPP, Rafael Grossi said, “No, absolutely not. If there is an issue with the plant we will address it immediately with the government, and we would be the first to say that there is a problem and that some action would need to be taken. But at the moment, as I say, we are confident that operations can continue.”
Metsamor generates roughly 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity. Its sole functioning reactor went into service in 1980 and was due to be decommissioned by 2017.
Armenia’s government decided to extend the 420-megawatt reactor’s life after failing to attract funding for the construction of a new and safer nuclear facility. In 2015, Russia allocated a $270 million loan and a $30 million grant to Yerevan for that purpose.
Russian and Armenian specialists essentially completed Metsamor’s modernization in 2021. Armenian officials now say the plant, located 35 kilometers west of Yerevan and just 16 kilometer from the Turkish border, can safely operate until 2036.