Nuclear Security of the South Caucasus

Nuclear security is a concern that no country can handle alone. This is what motivated the South Caucasian states to join the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to ratify relevant international conventions, and to join various IAEA documents on nuclear security. While all three South Caucasus states have had nuclear interests since the Soviet Union, today only Armenia has nuclear facilities – the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) – and since the Metamor NPP is technically outdated and located in a seismic zone, the focus has for some time been on nuclear security. The concern is well founded; Metsamor NPP is located in an area only 12 km from the Azerbaijani-Georgian border, 60 km from the Iranian border and 16 km from Turkey. All of these countries are at risk of radioactive contamination in the event of an accident in any category in the Metsamor NPP. This article analyzes the risk factors driving the region’s concerns about Metsamor, examines the possible effects of an accident through comparison with Chernobyl (which had the same type of reactor as Metsamor), and finally evaluates the measures taken to ensure the nuclear security of the South Caucasus.

Authors: Ravan Mehdiyeva