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Armenia: Cooperation On Nuclear Safety Affirmed

Yerevan, 17 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - An Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman today reaffirmed Armenia's commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the safe functioning of the Medzamor nuclear power station.

Arsen Gasparian, at his weekly press briefing, also said Yerevan would welcome Turkey's cooperation in emergency planning and seismic evaluation.

Gasparian said Armenia gives "absolute priority" to the safety of its peaceful nuclear energy program and cooperates with the IAEA to ensure the safe functioning of the Medzamor reactor. (An advance copy of Gasparian's remarks was made available to "RFE/RL Newsline.")

Gasparian said that in September, 1997, Armenia became the first country with a functioning nuclear power plant to sign the additional protocol to its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. This Protocol is a far more comprehensive non proliferation measure ensuring no nuclear and/or dual use material can be diverted to non-peaceful purposes.

Gasparian also said Armenia is ready to address Turkey's concerns about the safety of its reactor and has consented to a draft agreement endorsed by the IAEA on confidence-building measures in the area of nuclear safety, including regular exchanges of information.

Over the past ten years Turkish government officials have several times claimed that Armenia's nuclear power plant has leaked radio-activity that has affected areas of northeastern Turkey. In September, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov charged that the Medzamor plant is unsafe and that it could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. Armenia denied both these charges.