By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Due to the continued occupation of nearly 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory by Armenia, the country is unable to provide proper control along a substantial part of its borders, as well as nuclear smuggling and nuclear terrorism, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has said.
He made the remarks at the third International Conference on Nuclear Security: Sustaining and Strengthening Efforts (ICONS 2020) organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on February 10.
As Mammadyarov stressed, Azerbaijan attaches great importance to maintaining and further strengthening nuclear security, adding that especially, in the face of persistent threat of radical extremism and terrorism in the region and due to geographic location, Azerbaijan attaches the utmost importance to the prevention of use of its territory as a transit route for illicit nuclear trafficking.
"However, due to the continued occupation of about twenty percent of our territory by Armenia, we are unable to provide proper control along a substantial part of our borders. This situation offers favorable conditions for illegal activities, including for nuclear smuggling and nuclear terrorism," he added.
Mammadyarov also said that Azerbaijan continues to work on legislation on control over radiation security.
"Azerbaijan has already adopted normative acts and regulations strictly banning import of nuclear and radiation wastes into the country. With the assistance of the IAEA, the laws and other legislative acts of Azerbaijan concerning registration and control of nuclear and radioactive materials are brought into compliance with international standards," he said.
The minister also emphasized that Azerbaijan is committed to continue cooperation with international organizations and partners in order to strengthen nuclear security in the region and around the world, as well as to reduce threats posed by the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials.
Armenia violates its international commitments and internal legislation for nuclear security. In particular, the Metsamor nuclear power plant (NPP) built in 1970, was closed after the devastating earthquake in Armenia’s Spitak region in 1988. However, despite the international protests, NPP's operation was resumed in 1995.
Ecologists all over the region consider that seismic activity of this area turns operation of the Metsamor NPP in an extremely dangerous enterprise, even if a new type of reactor is built.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly brought to the IAEA's attention that the Metsamor NPP poses a threat to the region. One of the biggest problems for Azerbaijan is that Armenia may spray the NPP's radioactive waste in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.