By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Metsamor nuclear power plant (NPP) located in Armenia poses a nuclear threat to the entire region. The seriousness of this threat has repeatedly been raised both at the level of the expert community and by international organizations. However, Armenia to this day ignores world community proposals to stop using Metsamor NPP.
Due to the distressed state of Metsamor nuclear power plant (NPP), military exercises were held recently in the Igdir province of Turkey. In the framework of exercises, measures were developed to protect against the consequences of a possible accident in the above mentioned NPP.
Turkish media reported that as part of the exercise, actions were taken to protect the inhabitants of eight bordering villages in Turkey from possible chemical, biological and radiation threats.
According to the exercise scenario, after the accident at the Metsamor NPP, residents of the Alijan village in Igdir were evacuated to a tent camp set up in the territory of the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
Turkey’s concern is quite understandable. Metsamor NPP is one of the oldest and most dangerous in the region. It is in disrepair, and in recent years there have been many incidents on it, which give reason to constantly remember the Armenian threat to the region.
Vardan Martirosyan, Minister of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources of Armenia, said Armenia has started developing a pilot program for the removal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) to Russia through Georgia.
Apparently, Armenia believes that will be able to get rid of the accumulated SNF and will create a precedent for the removal of SNF from the country through Georgia.
Local specialists consider the storage facilities are catastrophically lacking in Armenia, and those that exist are long overflowing. Another representative of the ministry Artem Petrosyan said that the design operational life of such repositories is about 50 years. As for the building of new repositories, it requires new multi-million investments and Armenia cannot allocate such huge funds, he added.
That is why it is much cheaper to send spent nuclear fuel to Russia through Georgia, putting the neighboring country at risk.
Although the Armenian side insists on the “full security” of the Metsamor NPP, European countries are also skeptical towards this station.
After the publication of the agreement text with the EU in the framework of the Eastern Partnership, the Armenian public learned that Europe considers the Metsamor NPP as a threat and demands its closure. Despite all the excuses of Yerevan, the EU continues to insist on this position.
At the regular meeting of the Armenia-EU Subcommittee on Energy, Transport, Environment, Climate and Civil Defense last year, Dirk Lorenz, Deputy Head of the Eastern Partnership in the European External Affairs Service, stated the need to close down the Armenian NPP.
Lorenz added that it is impossible to improve the NPP so that it fully complies with international safety requirements.
With the change of power in Armenia, Europe’s attitude to this issue has not changed and the corresponding clause has not been deleted from the text of the agreement. However, Yerevan continues to ignore the requirements of European partners, as well as the instructions of the IAEA on the need to shut down all nuclear reactors with expired service life.
Thus, sooner or later Armenia must make a choice - whether to choose relations with EU or close the Metsamor NPP.