By Emil Danielyan
The longtime director of the Metsamor nuclear power station, Suren Azatian, tendered his resignation to the Armenian government on Monday, saying that he wants to retire after many years of “tense” work in the atomic energy sector.
Azatian, 56, denied any other motives behind his decision.
“I am very tired and it’s time for me to retire,” he told RFE/RL by phone. “It would be difficult for me to carry on with this job.”
Azatian managed the Metsamor plant for nearly nine years, presiding over its landmark reactivation in 1995. An ardent advocate of atomic energy, he is strongly opposed to Metsamor’s closure in 2004 as was initially agreed by the Armenian government and the European Union. He believes that the continued existence of a nuclear plant is vital for the economic independence of the landlocked and resource-poor country.
Azatian said he is leaving Metsamor in an “excellent state” and remains confident that it poses no environmental risks. He also claimed that continuing wage arrears, which nearly resulted in a strike by its personnel last summer, played no role in his decision to quit.
Azatian had repeatedly voiced his frustration with the government’s failure to pay his employees’ back wages and address the Hayenergo national power grid’s huge debts to Metsamor.