Azerbaijan threatened on Thursday to launch missile attacks on Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear plant amid continuing deadly clashes on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
“The Armenian side must not forget that state-of-the-art missile systems of our army allow us to strike the Metsamor nuclear plant with precision, which could lead to a great catastrophe for Armenia,” said Vagif Dargahli, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman.
According to Azerbaijani news agencies, Dargahli responded to what he described as Armenian threats to attack a large reservoir in central Azerbaijan.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry condemned Dargahli’s remarks as a “manifestation of state terrorism” that "reflects Azerbaijan’s genocidal intentions.”
“With such statements, Azerbaijan’s leadership poses a threat to all peoples of the region, including its own people,” it said in a statement.
An Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, also condemned Baku's threat, saying that it amounts to a “concrete crime.” “I am very glad that our officials, politicians and diplomats are raising this issue with relevant [international] bodies,” he told journalists.
Hovannisian suggested that the threat came in response to statements made by “various private individuals” in Armenia. “There have been no official statements by Armenian military authorities about hitting such civilian, strategic or non-strategic facilities [of Azerbaijan,]” he stressed.
The Soviet-built nuclear plant located 35 kilometers west of Yerevan generates roughly 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity. Baku’s threat to destroy it came hours after fierce fighting resumed on a volatile section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
At least 16 soldiers from both sides have been killed and dozens of others wounded there since Sunday. The two sides blame each other for the worst escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since 2016.