Armenia’s positive lessons learned on nuclear power

February 6, 2024, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Areg Danagoulian, associate professor of nuclear science and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, draws on his experiences growing up in Soviet-era Armenia to argue that nuclear energy is crucial to “help strengthen liberal democracies that are being unprecedently threatened” by what he calls authoritarian regimes, such as Russia and China.

Disasters both natural and man-made: In his essay “How Nuclear Power Saved Armenia,” published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Danagoulian recalls the shutdown of Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear reactors in 1989 in the wake of fears generated by the 1986 Chernobyl accident, which “dramatically undermin[ed] public trust in nuclear power as a safe source of energy.” He asserted that “the public perception of danger from nuclear power was magnified by the outrageous lies that the Soviet leadership spread about the disaster, the obvious incompetence and irresponsibility of the Soviet nuclear designers who built and operated the Chernobyl reactor, and the poorly executed cleanup efforts, which were compounded by miscalculations and gross mistakes.”

U.S., Armenia ink civil nuclear pact

May 6, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

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.

Armenia to extend operation of Metsamor-2

January 25, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Cooling towers at the Metsamor nuclear plant. Photo: ANPP

Armenia plans to extend the operational life of Unit 2 at Metsamor (also matter-of-factly known as the Armenian nuclear power plant) beyond 2026 and has not abandoned plans to construct a new reactor, the Armenian news agency ARKA reported on January 14, citing the country’s new cabinet-approved strategy for energy sector development through 2040. (The Armenian government in 2014 decided to extend Unit 2’s service life to 2026.)

The nuclear advantage: “Having a nuclear power plant in the energy system will allow Armenia to diversify its energy resources, avoid increasing the country’s dependence on imported natural gas, as well as cut the volume of emissions,” the strategy document states, according to ARKA. “The government remains committed to its policy of having a nuclear power plant in the country’s generating capacity. In this context, it should be noted that the option of maximally extending the operating life of the nuclear power plant is a guarantee of the development of the system at the lowest cost.”