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.
The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan said they two sides reaffirmed their “commitment to continuing these efforts and identified opportunities for further collaboration.”
An embassy statement quoted U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills as saying that Washington will continue to “enhance Armenia’s ability to investigate nuclear smuggling incidents.”
“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 participants included representatives the Foreign Ministry, the National Security Service as well as the customs and immigration agencies.
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 U.S. government has supplied Armenian border guard and customs services with U.S.-made radio-communication systems, border sensors, metal detectors, cargo truck scales, and X-ray devices.
It also donated modern equipment to a special laboratory that was inaugurated at Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear plant in 2013. The facility is tasked with conducting forensic tests needed in the prosecution of smugglers.
Incidentally, nuclear experts from Metsamor also participated in the U.S.-Armenian meeting.
According to the U.S. Embassy statement, the two governments have already “strengthened security at Armenian facilities that house radioactive materials” and “improved Armenia’s ability to detect radioactive materials that might cross its borders.”
President Serzh Sarkisian was among 50 heads of state that were invited to a global nuclear security summit hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington in early April.