Nuclear fear to last for another decade

Nuclear fear to last for another decade

Nerdun Hacıoğlu MOSCOW / Hürriyet
Nuclear fear to last for another decade

Armenia’s Mestamor nuclear power plant was closed in 1988 after a devastating earthquake, but reopened in 1995. It will be active for one more decade. Hürriyet photo

Armenia will postpone the closure of the Metsamor nuclear power plant, a controversial facility only 16 kilometers from the country’s border with Turkey, for 10 years to 2023, Armenian Energy Minister Armen Movsisyan has said.

“We have extended the operation duration of the current plant, considering that a new nuclear plant to meet Armenia’s power demand cannot be build in less than 10 years,” he said.

United States support
Armenia knows that Western countries support the closure of the Metsamor facility, the minister said, but the United States already backs their decision and has promised security support for the facility.

U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern confirmed the statements, saying that the U.S wants the facility to be closed by 2016 at the latest, but after Armenia’s extension decision they signed a memorandum in a bid to at least increase security.

The nuclear plant was closed in 1988, during the Soviet era, after a devastating earthquake killed around 25,000 people, and resumed operations in 1995.

Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan would be the most affected by an accident at Metsamor, said Eurasia Security and Strategic Research Center (ASAM) President Hatem Cabbarlı.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said in October of last year that he had ordered the country’s nuclear authority to measure radioactivity in the east after the deadly earthquake in Van province on Oct. 23, for fear of leaks from Metsamor.