HY RU EN

Kristine Aghalaryan

Nuclear Regulator - Weapons Grade Uranium Doesn't Exist in Armenia

Ashot Martirosyan Chairman of Armenia’s Nuclear Safety Regulatory Committee stated today that weapons-grade uranium, as recently reported to have been smuggled into Georgia from Armenia, has never been available in Armenia. Mr. Martirosyan was unable to answer how such material wound up in neighbouring Georgia. "How it got there or if it indeed ever got there, I can’t say. We have no such information." He stated that monitoring equipment to spot such material has been installed at border crossing points fo many years now. The uranium claimed to have been smuggled into Georgia by two Armenians via train by Yerevan is said to be 87% enriched. Mr. Martirosyan noted that nuclear fuel used at the Metzamor power plant in Armenia is either 1.6%, 2.4% or 3.6% enriched. The smuggled uranium is said to have originated in the Russian city of Novosibirsk. Mr. Martirosyan did not deny the fact that the Metzamor plant uses Russian fuel. When asked by this reporter how the smuggling incident would impact on Armenia’s reputation overseas, Mr. Martirosyan answered that there would be no negative fallout since Armenia possesses no such nuclear material. He refuted allegations that the uranium might have come from Metzamor, arguing that uranium at the plant is stored in quantities of 250 kilos, and that it is theoretically impossible to remove any from storage. The amount said to have been smuggled into Georgia was 18 grams.