Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Committee to discuss the agency’s report on its activities for 2023. It was noted that measures are ongoing to increase the safety of the existing Armenian NPP, to fulfil the conditions and requirements of its operating licence.

The currently operating Armenian NPP (ANPP) at Metsamor was built in the 1970s with two Soviet-supplied VVER-440-V230 units, but was closed following a devastating earthquake in 1988. However, unit 2 was recommissioned with Russian help in 1995 following severe energy shortages. In March 2014, the Armenian government decided to extend the plant’s service life to 2026. Most of the overhaul (until 2019) was funded by an interstate loan from Russia. Construction of a new nuclear plant has long been part of Armenia’s overall plan, although finance has proved to be an obstacle.

Referring to plans for a new nuclear unit, Pashinyan noted that the creation of an organisation for the implementation of the project had been discussed and emphasised the importance of providing a powerful personnel base. It is planned to build a new NPP within 8-10 years and various options are being investigated including technologies from Russia, the USA, and South Korea. The preliminary feasibility study for the construction of a new 1200 MWe unit from is under consideration.

The Prime Minister was presented with a sequence of steps for analysis and further actions regarding the advisability of building a new NPP in Armenia, deploying small modular reactors (SMRs), as well as choosing the necessary technologies. Pashinyan said he considered the option of SMRs to be politically interesting. He noted, in particular, the much smaller emergency response zones required.