France is eyeing nuclear opportunities in Armenia, with a French mission being sent to determine how to provide the ex-Soviet republic with nuclear energy.

President Nicolar Sarkozy announced the mission at a news conference that concluded a state visit.

Metsamor, Armenia’s sole operating reactor, covers 40 per cent of its electricity needs but is due to close in response to safety fears from the US and Europe.

French Energy Minister Eric Besson, who accompanied Sarkozy, said Armenian authorities had told Paris they would like to co-operate with France, although Russia’s Rosatom will supply the country’s next reactor.

The nuclear co-operation would focus on safety as Metsamor is in a seismic zone, said Besson.

“They need one or several reactors of medium-sized power capacity. There is no need for a next-generation reactor such as (Areva’s) EPR or the equivalent,” he told journalists, according to Reuters.

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