Monday, 27 September 2021 04:21 GMT

Azerbaijan calls for Armenian nuclear plant's closure over threat to region


(MENAFN- AzerNews) By Vafa Ismayilova

Azerbaijan's human rights commissioner has urged all relevant international agencies to take serious steps for the immediate closure of Armenia's nuclear power plant which is a potential threat to the entire region.

Rights commissioner Sabina Babayeva made the remarks in a statement posted on the official website of the Azerbaijani ombudsman office on January 27.

"Taking into account all the hazards that the Metsamor nuclear power plant [NPP] may cause, I call on all relevant international organizations to take urgent measures for its immediate closure, ensuring the safe suspension of its operation and realization of all stages of radioactive waste management under strict international control in full compliance with the requirements set up by the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management of the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as PACE Resolution 1588 (2007), to prevent disasters like Chernobyl or Fukushima," Babayeva said.

She stressed that all regional countries are exposed to the nuclear threat.

"The expired Metsamor NPP has become an open threat not only to Armenia itself but also to the entire region. Moreover, it is located in an earthquake-prone area of the South Caucasus, which makes its operation even more dangerous. There are five earthquake tectonic breaks around the NPP, one of the main faults is in only 500 meters from the station," she said.

The rights commissioner expressed serious concern over the recent discussions in the Armenian parliament on the use of radioactive waste from the Metsamor NPP for military purposes.

Babayeva recalled that at a meeting of the Armenian parliamentary standing committee on regional affairs and Eurasian integration, Armenia's Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure said that the Metsamor NPP generates a significant amount of radioactive waste. She expressed concern over the fact that Armenia radioactively contaminated the Azerbaijani territories, which had been under occupation for about 30 years. She reported, quoting the Geology and Geophysics Institute of the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences that the waste from the Metsamor NPP was buried on the territory of Aghdere town, as well as of Kalbajar region.

The rights commissioner added that a number of international organizations also stressed their concern about the Metsamor NPP, quoting a statement by European Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini, in In 2017.

"The EU is fully aware of the risks posed by the Metsamor nuclear power plant (MNPP). Therefore, a swift closure and decommissioning of the MNPP remains a key objective for the EU and the European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan, as this power plant cannot be upgraded to meet internationally recognized nuclear safety standards," Mogherini was quoted as saying.

However, it seems that Armenia is not planning to shut down the plant; on the contrary, its operation has been extended beyond 2026, Babayeva said. 

Armenia's three-decade occupation of Azerbaijani territories extensively damaged the ecosystem, wildlife and natural resources in and around the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenians also resorted to large-scale acts of ecological terror in regions they had to leave under the trilateral November peace deal that stipulated the return of Azerbaijan's occupied territories.

The clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated for the second time in 2020 after Armenia's forces deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, causing casualties among civilians and the military. In the early hours of September 27, Azerbaijan launched a counter-offensive operation which lasted six weeks. The operation resulted in the liberation of Azerbaijan's occupied lands.

A Russia-brokered ceasefire deal that Azerbaijan and Armenia signed on November 10, 2020, brought an end to the 44-day war between the two countries. The Azerbaijani army declared a victory against the Armenian troops. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it had occupied.

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