Russia-Armenia Nuclear Energy Cooperation and the Metsamor Power Plant

Metsamor, a Soviet-made nuclear reactor still operating in Armenia, causes serious security concerns not only within the region, but also at the international level. Unfortunately, the nuclear threat in the Caucasus is pressing, as Metsamor lacks the requisite safety containment structures, and is located in a seismically active zone. Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as the wider neighborhood, Turkey and Iran, have expressed serious concerns regarding the recent Russia-Armenia nuclear agreement to prolong Metsamor’s operational life. Due to Armenia’s inability to implement a more secure energy production policy, and Russia’s continued interference and influence, Metsamor remains operational in the face of international warnings and the clear nuclear threat. The West is also concerned about Russia-Armenia nuclear cooperation. The EU and the US, accordingly, advocate for the decommissioning of the plant, as this would prevent future environmental catastrophe as well as helping to limit Russian dominance in the region. This paper examines how Russian-Armenian nuclear cooperation influences regional security in the South Caucasus and entrenches Russian dominance in the region. The paper also discusses the developments that could avert potential nuclear crisis and force Armenia to decommission this outdated nuclear plant such as the normalization of political relations within the South Caucasus, the development of Armenia’s renewable energy sector, and the clear foreign policy visions of the surrounding powers towards the region.

Authors: Nina Miholjcic