U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken and Armenian minister of foreign affairs Ararat Mirzoyan signed a memorandum of understanding last week concerning strategic civil nuclear cooperation (NCMOU).
According to the State Department, NCMOUs are used to develop stronger ties between the United States and partner countries’ nuclear experts, industry, and researchers, as well as to provide support for the U.S. civil nuclear industry and nuclear nonproliferation goals.
“[The NCMOU], for the United States and Armenia, opens new cooperative paths and, I think, can also serve to strengthen very much the bilateral relationship between us,” said Blinken at the signing ceremony.
The signing took place during a meeting in Washington to relaunch the U.S.-Armenia Strategic Dialogue, which had been suspended due to the pandemic.
Background: Armenia is home to one nuclear power facility, Metsamor, which houses two VVER-440 model V270 pressurized water reactors, built in the 1970s. Both units were shut down in 1988 as a result of public pressure following a severe earthquake in the region. With Russian assistance, however, the 415-MWe Unit 2 was restarted in 1995.
Early last year, the news agency ARKA reported that the Armenian government had decided to extend Unit 2’s service life beyond the previously announced closure date of 2026 and that it had not abandoned plans to construct a new reactor, citing the country’s new cabinet-approved strategy for energy-sector development through 2040.