12, 2011

President Serzh Sargsyan participated at the session of the AESC

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Today, at the Government Reception House President Serzh Sargsyan met with the Chair of the RA Presidential Atomic Energy Security Council Adolf Birkhofer, who has arrived to Armenia to participate at the 12th meeting of the AESC.

Welcoming the guest, the President of Armenia thanked him for his considerable assistance in ensuring nuclear safety of Armenia. Serzh Sargsyan stressed the importance of the AESC activities and cooperation with the IAEA.

The President of Armenia and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Security Council discussed also steps undertaken toward the enhancement of the Armenian Nuclear Power station’s safety, future works of the station and construction of a new unit.

President Serzh Sargsyan participated at the session of the AESC, which took place at the Government Reception House, and made an opening statement.


Opening statement by President Serzh Sargsyan at the 12th meeting of the RA Presidential Atomic Energy Security Council

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished members of the Council,
Participants of the meeting,

Inaugurating the 12th meeting of the Atomic Energy Security Council, I welcome the members of the Council and all the participants of the meeting.

First, I would like to introduce two new members of the AESC: Dr. Christopher Watson from Great Britain, Senior Adviser in the Closed Nuclear Sites Program and Gerald Ouzounian, from France, Vice Director of the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (ANDRA). Let’s wish them successful and efficient work. Once again, I thank them for accepting invitation to participate in the works of our Council.

During the fifteen years of its existence, the Council has accomplished great work. I thank you all for your invaluable assistance in the enhancement of the safety of the Armenian Nuclear Power Station (ANPS). Cooperation in this format is hardly to be overestimated, considering the unique role of the Station in the energy security of our country.

Allow me to say words of appreciation to the IAEA and to the governments of all countries which have brought their participation to this process.

Constant upgrading of the security level of the ANPS continues to be a priority for the Armenian Government.

I familiarized with the materials presented by the ANPS governing body and management as well as with the materials of the IAEA Coordinating meeting related to the upgrading of the ANPS, which took place last October in Vienna.

We understand the position of the donor states regarding the necessity of increasing Armenia’s share in the co-financing of the works to upgrade the safety level of the Armenian Nuclear Power Station. Certainly, this issue has some objective difficulties: the global economic and financial crisis and its negative impact on the Armenian economy have introduced serious changes to our programs.

In April 2010 natural gas tariffs increased. Not to make social situation even worse for the public, we preserved final tariffs for electric power and increased only tariffs for the electricity produced by the ANPS. Meanwhile, not only the nuclear fuel but also renovation works became more expensive. As a result, the tariff margin for the ANPS was insufficient for covering all expenses. Thus, we are trying to find additional resources for addressing this situation. I would also like to invite attention to some aspects of Armenia-IAEA cooperation. Each year, we receive up to ten missions which conduct monitoring of the ANPS safety and security, as well as its seismic and operational security. In May 2011, we received the OSART mission which conducted a comprehensive test on the ANPS operation safety. Eight directions of the station operation were tested and the OSART group identified seven instances of positive experience which will be recommended for the implementation in other countries.

The group presented 14 recommendations and 12 proposals by areas which can upgrade the operation safety of the ANPS. In November, the Government of Armenia officially received the final report of the mission. The report will be thoroughly examined and all necessary steps will be taken to improve the areas on which the mission had presented recommendations and proposals. All steps should be taken so that the second check to be conducted in the end of 2012, or beginning of 2013 confirm considerable progress in the upgrading of the operation safety level of the ANPS. The leadership of the Station will expeditiously take certain measures to develop the infrastructure and human resources of the ANPS, considering the fact that there is a new nuclear power station in the region which offers higher wages compared to ours.

Dear Colleagues,

The Armenian side has decided to conduct in the nearest future a stress test of the operational unit of the ANPS. The European Union has expressed readiness to assist in the timely execution of the test. Currently, the ANPS has already commenced preliminary works for the fulfillment of the test. The results of the stress test will be available by the second quarter of 2012.

Although, safe operation of the ANPS is considered to be a top priority issue, we view issues related to the future of the power generating unit as no less important. The plan of joint actions of Armenia and European Union include also development of the “Decommissioning of the ANPS nuclear power generating unit” plan. Works on creation of the “Strategy for the Management of the Radioactive Waste and Used Nuclear Fuel” have already been started with the EU. In the framework of the energy security component of the Eastern Partnership program, the EU plan of action is also dedicated to the issues related to the development of regional infrastructure and diversification of the energy resources.

I would like to speak briefly about the works aimed at the development of nuclear power engineering in our country. Armenia has a strategic plan for energy sector development and the plan of atomic power engineering plays a pivotal role in that issue. Only existence of the Nuclear Power Station in the structure of the basic power production will allow us to maintain the required level of the energy security for Armenia. For that very reason, any discussion on the future of the second power generating unit is closely linked to the timing of the launch of the new power generating unit. It is also obvious that any delay in the construction of a new unit, will compel us to solve the issue of the prolongation of the n.2 power generating unit of the ANPS.

International conference named “Armenia’s New Nuclear Power Generating Unit: Investment Opportunities”, which was scheduled for April 2011, has been postponed because of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Consequences of the accident on the Fukushima NPS prove the necessity of enhanced and more comprehensive studies of the safety on the existing as well as prospective nuclear power stations. Deferment of the conference allowed us together with the international nuclear companies to conduct thorough studies on the effects of the Fukushima accident and consider possible changes in the safety requirements for the construction of a new nuclear power station.

Distinguished Colleagues,

I informed you during our previous meeting that the Government of Armenia has approved the Russian NPS-92 as the blueprint for the construction of the new nuclear power generating unit.

In August 2010, the Governments of Armenia and Russian Federation signed agreement “On the Construction of the New Nuclear Power Generation Unit on the Territory of Armenia.” According to this agreement, Russia participates in the project as an investor and its investments will equal the value of the equipment provided for the “nuclear island.” The agreement provides also the opportunity to consider, if necessary, the possibility of making loans. At the meeting with President Sarkozy, we have discussed the possibility of the participation of French investors to the construction of the unit. Discussed also was the possibility of the participation of French companies as equipment suppliers.

We are aware of the positive experience of combining devices of the Russian “nuclear island” with western equipment. Rosatom has already developed a plan of integrating of the Areva-Siemens equipment in the Russian NPS-92 plan at the Belena NPS in Bulgaria. It demonstrates that our concept of integrating western technologies in the Russian project can be promising.

We have already concluded technical and economic feasibility studies for the construction of new nuclear power generating units in Armenia. I would like to recognize assistance of the IAEA in preparing expert reports on the seismic reevaluation of the site. This work is important not only for the seismic safety of the operational unit but also for the construction of a new nuclear power generating unit in Armenia.

Second studies on seismic, volcanic and geophysical situation on the NPS site were conducted in 2008-2010. Evaluation of the results of this reports, conducted by the IAEA experts, confirm that the site for the new unit of the Armenian NPS has been chosen correctly. The IAEA mission hailed the level of the conducted works.

The Report on the “Evaluation of the impact of the new nuclear power generating unit on the environment” has also been completed. This report is open and is placed on the official sites of the RA Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Nature Protection where it undergoes an examination by experts. I am confident that today, just like before, we will conduct an open and interested discussion on all the issues of the agenda.

I conclude my remarks and give the floor to the Chair of the Atomic Energy Security Council Adolf Birkhofer, who will preside over the meeting.

Thank you.


After the opening remarks of the President of Armenia, Adolf Birkhofer made a statement. He stressed the importance of the OSART mission’s work, noting that material reflected in the report of the mission was very positive. According to Adolf Birkhofer, the Government of Armenia and AESC should be commended on such a good work and good results. “I believe, we have made a step forward. Among existing nuclear power stations, the ANPS is a honorary partner. I trust, we are on the right track,” the German Chairman of the AESC said, speaking about future operation of the Armenian Nuclear Power Station and issues related to the construction of a new unit.

At the meeting interventions were also made by the Director General of the ANPS Ltd Gagik Markossian, who presented a report on the “Operation of the Armenia Nuclear Power Station”, and the Chairman of the RA Government State Committee on the Regulation of Nuclear Safety Ashot Martirossian who introduced the report of the Committee activities for 2010-2011.

The reports were followed by the discussions on the presented issues.


Additional Information

The RA Presidential Atomic Energy Security Council was created by the decree of the President of Armenia. This independent advisory body was established to ensure safe operation of the Armenia Nuclear Power Station.

The Council comprises scientists and experts of international standing and repute.

The Council conducts its activities through the Council meetings which are invited at least once a year.

The Charter of the Council stipulates that the main objectives of the Council are:

- creation of safe nuclear power generation and formation of priority directions for its development, working out of the assignments related to the problems and development of proposals,

- Analysis and expertise of the drafts of the legal and standard acts to be submitted to the President of Armenia, aimed at the peaceful and safe use of nuclear energy.

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