YEREVAN — U.S. and Armenian officials met in Yerevan on Monday to review ongoing efforts to prevent smuggling of radioactive materials through Armenia’s territory that have for years been supported by the United States.
According to a press release by the US Embassy in Yerean, incidents of nuclear and radioactive material smuggling around the world highlight the need for coordinated international efforts to secure these dangerous materials and keep them from falling into the hands of terrorists or other criminals who might use them for malicious purposes.
The United States and Armenia have been close partners in this effort for a number of years. In addition, Armenia has been an active and important member of the international community’s work to enhance nuclear security and combat nuclear proliferation, through the Nuclear Security Summit process, the IAEA, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and other international institutions.
“We are partnering together to enhance Armenia’s ability to investigate nuclear smuggling incidents, as well as build on the sides’ shared commitment to nuclear nonproliferation overall,” said U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills Jr.
“This review reflects Armenia’s commitment to proper stewardship of nuclear materials under its control and continued willingness to work to prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials across its borders,” added Mills.
Mills took part in the review along with experts from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. The Armenian side was led by Gagik Hovhannisian, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ International Security Department, and included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Energy, the NSS, and from Armenia’s border security, customs, and nuclear regulatory agencies. Also participating were experts from the nation’s nuclear power plant operator.
The U.S.-Armenian efforts against nonproliferation stem from a joint action plan that was signed in 2008 by then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. The Joint Action Plan on Combating Smuggling of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials lists steps that Armenia can undertake to strengthen its capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear and radioactive material smuggling. U.S. assistance to Armenia as it moves forward to implement the plan has included training, equipment, and other forms of support. Together, the two governments have strengthened security at Armenian facilities that house radioactive materials, improved Armenia’s ability to detect radioactive materials that might cross its borders, and developed Armenia’s capacity to investigate nuclear smuggling incidents.