BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 15. Despite all efforts to restore peace in South Caucasus and beyond its territory after the liberation of Azerbaijani lands from occupation, Armenia continues to hinder this process, Trend reports.
Here we are talking not only about Armenia's non-constructive actions in the political area but also about the environmental terrorism that Yerevan has committed and continues to commit against its neighbors.
Not only Azerbaijan but also Iran suffers from the ecological catastrophe, the source of which is Armenia. Iran has repeatedly raised the issue, in particular, about the pollution of the Aras river by Armenia. But apparently, it's not enough, since Armenia still pollutes this river, which is a significant source for irrigation of lands in both Azerbaijan and Iran.
As a result of the activity of the Metsamor nuclear power plant, located in Armenia, 12,000-16,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste are dumped into the Aras river every day, not to mention the waste of mining companies on the territory of Armenia. This threatens the use of river water as a drinking and irrigation source.
Transboundary water flows coming from Armenia and flowing into the Aras river are collecting industrial waste from enterprises located in Gafan and Gajaran. In order to push Yerevan to build water treatment facilities, this issue has been repeatedly raised by both Azerbaijan and Iran, but no action has been taken by Armenia.
In addition, German Ambassador to Azerbaijan Wolfgang Manig said that several years ago Germany offered Armenia to build wastewater treatment plants to stop the pollution of the Aras river, but the issue has not yet been resolved. As a result, wastewater from industrial enterprises in Armenia continues to flow into the Aras river. Aras is the second largest river by its size in the South Caucasus and the largest right tributary of the Kura, it's the main source of water, and its pollution threatens the safety of all border countries.
The pollution of the water resources of countries located in the region caused by Armenia also grossly violates the principles of the UN Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. Moreover, the level of pollution of the Okhchuchai river flowing into the Aras poses a great threat.
Some 58 monitoring sessions were conducted in connection with the state of the river. Samples were taken from three different directions of the river. More than 150 water samples and more than 180 sediment samples were taken. A physicochemical analysis was carried out on the basis of these samples. It turned out that the level of pollution in the river is 5-7 times higher than normal. Unfortunately, its pollution continues today. The level of heavy and other metals in water is currently 5-7 times higher than normal.
For Iran, the solution to the ecological problem of the Aras river is of fundamental importance. Iran has repeatedly expressed concern about the pollution of transboundary rivers and the danger that threatens the Aras river. At the meeting of the Armenian-Iranian intergovernmental joint working group held in Tabriz in November 2019, issues of preventing pollution of the Aras river were discussed.
Minister of Energy of Iran at the beginning of 2021 noted that Yerevan is not taking sufficient steps to stop the dumping of waste in Aras. The Iranian Prosecutor General during his visit to Armenia in May 2022 raised the issue of water pollution to the country's officials and said that Tehran and Yerevan plan to create a special commission to investigate the pollution of the river.
Furthermore, recently at a meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that the pollution of Aras and the environmental disaster that its causing are of concern to Tehran. The governor-general of Iran's East Azarbaijan Province Abedin Khorram at a meeting with the Armenian Ambassador to Iran Arsen Avagyan said that the Aras river is of great importance for Iran and that his country expects serious steps from Armenia to control mining waste.
The Iranian parliament has repeatedly held discussions on the pollution of the Aras river by Armenia. In the reports discussed in the Iranian Parliament, it was noted that the reason for the growth of oncological diseases among the population of the Mughan district of the Ardabil region is the pollution of the Aras river by Armenia.
The Iranian Parliament stressed that Armenia caused great damage to the environment by dumping radioactive waste into the river. Fertile lands are located on the territory of Iran along the Aras, agriculture is developed here. Local farmers use the river as irrigation water. The pollution of waters with toxic substances leads to a decrease in productivity and an increase in various diseases among the population.
As a former member of the Iranian Parliament Mohammad Hasannejad told Trend Armenia's pollution of the Aras river is an obvious problem for everyone.
"It is enough to look at the river from the Iranian side below the Norduz Bridge. A small stream from the Armenian side flows into the Aras, and at this point, the blue color of the water turns into the color of cement. The reason is the release of copper-containing waste. The Armenian side ignores this issue and waits for Iran to resolve it. It can be assumed that either the Armenian side is indifferent to all issues, or Yerevan believes that Iran is forced to agree with Armenia," he said.
Hasannejad noted that as a member of Parliament, he visited Armenia in this regard to get acquainted with the situation on the spot. "Since Soviet times there has been a copper mine here, the waste of which was transported to another place via pipelines. However, later these pipelines rotted and as a result, the waste began to flow into the Aras river," he said.
According to the former deputy, the pollution of the Aras is not only an environmental problem but also a safety problem.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran should take measures to prevent pollution of the river. I am of the opinion that Iran has not acted decisively on this issue," Hasannejad concluded.
Peter Tase, US expert, strategic adviser on international affairs and public diplomacy to governments, universities, and corporations in Europe and the Americas, told Trend that Yerevan is causing irreparable damages to the ecosystem and environment of entire Southern Caucasus region.
"It is not a surprise that Iran maintains silence and refrains from pressuring the government of Armenia to not contaminate the trans boundary rivers that run through the Southern Caucasus territory and are a significant source of fresh water for agriculture production in Azerbaijan and the region. Iran must exert pressure and conduct urgent soil and water tests to reconfirm the fact that Armenian regime - by dumping dangerous chemical waste in the Araz River - has heavily contaminated water resources and subterranean levels of agriculture soil, across the region. Environmental crimes committed by Armenia must be brought before the international community and denounced in the appropriate European judiciary institutions. Iran must act now before it’s rural communities are devastated by the chemical dumping committed by Armenia which has already taken place for many years and consequences are obviously going to be more visible and harmful unless Teheran acts quickly," he said.
Tase noted that Armenia is a threat to the region and conducted large scale environmental contamination over the years, meanwhile the European Union and United States continue to remain silent as earth damages and health problems continue to be more evident, due to the environmental terrorism and the unabashedly foreign policy leaders of Yerevan whose sole purpose is to lie the international community.
"Iran remains silent until today, although its water resources are depleted and agriculture farm land is heavily suffering from Armenian toxic leadership who constantly dumps dangerous, cancer generating chemicals into Fresh water resources that are used for agriculture. The unique animal species in Araz river are also extinct due to Armenia’s brutality towards the ecosystem and the earth," he concluded.
It seems that Tehran intends to seriously address the issue of restoring environmental safety. The question arises, will Iran finally be able to force Armenia to take appropriate measures to prevent environmental pollution, which has created many threats to the South Caucasus region?
However, over the years, appeals for Yerevan to act at this stage have not yielded any results. Armenia continues to pollute cross-border rivers, threatening the ecological safety of the region. It is not enough for Azerbaijan and Iran to take joint steps to eliminate the environmental damage caused at the current stage. Such steps on the part of Armenia can help solve the problem. Otherwise, the pollution of the Aras river can lead to an ecological catastrophe not only for Azerbaijan and Iran but also for all the countries of the Caspian basin.