“The Prime Minister of Armenia confirmed the country's interest in building a new nuclear power plant unit and small modular reactors”.

Acting Chairman of the Committee Khachatur Khachikyan and his deputies reported on the work of the reporting period, the press service of the RA Government reports.

In particular, works on state regulation in the field of atomic energy use, ensuring safety of the population, atomic energy facilities, protection of the population and the environment from possible harmful effects of ionising radiation were presented.

It was noted that within the framework of supervision over nuclear facilities, activities continue to improve the safety of the Armenian NPP, fulfilment of the conditions and requirements of the licence for the operation of the second power unit. Inspections were carried out, reports were analysed, project documents on the implementation of modifications of important safety systems were studied, including the implementation of measures envisaged by the National Stress Testing Plan.
Legislation in this area is regularly reviewed taking into account changes in NPP safety norms, new standards, international and domestic experience. The programmes and objectives of technical cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were presented, as well as work in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy.

The Prime Minister was presented a sequence of steps on analyses and further actions regarding the expediency of building a new nuclear power unit in Armenia, placement of small modular reactors, as well as selection of necessary technologies.

Pashinyan pointed out that not knowing professional nuances, he considers the option of modular reactors politically interesting.

"In case of accidents of these reactors, there is no need to create emergency response zones. In other words, if there is an accident, we will not apply measures to protect the population within a radius of a hundred kilometres," the prime minister said.

In response, representatives of the Committee stated that the accident qualifies as an internal accident: for such reactors, the concept of an external accident disappears.
Referring to the project of the new nuclear power unit, the prime minister said that the creation of an organisation for the implementation of the project of the new nuclear power plant was discussed first, and stressed the importance of ensuring a strong human resources base.

"There is a lot of work to be done to attract the right personnel to this work. The planned granting of deferment of service in the Army is important in order to emphasise nuclear energy. We should also think about incentivising the involvement of women in this sphere," Pashinyan said.

The Armenian NPP, the only one in the South Caucasus region, is located near the town of Metsamor, about 30 kilometres west of Yerevan. The plant is one of the main sources of electricity in the country, providing up to 40 per cent of total generation. Its resource has been extended until 2026, and work is underway to re-extend it for another 10 years.

It is planned to build a new NPP within 8-10 years; now various options are being compared and the experience of partners from Russia, the USA and South Korea is being studied. The Armenian side is already considering the preliminary feasibility study developed by Rosatom State Corporation for the construction of a new 1200 MW unit.