Friday, September 16, 2016

Nuclear facility in Armenia

An article appeared in the English-language Korean Times entitled, "Nuclear facility in Armenia". I emailed the Korean Times inquiring how to submit an Opinion or Letter to the Editor. Their web site does not provide a way to respond to Opinion pieces other than a very limited, 150 word length reader comment. The Korean Times never responded to my simple inquiry.

I subsequently forwarded the Opinion piece below to the Korean Herald, a competitor of the Korean Times. The Korean Herald clearly provides an email address for Opinions/Letters to the Editor. The Korean Herald, also, never responded to my submission email or published my submission. While my Opinion perhaps is not as important as the Samsung S7 recall, the article I am responding to was published with massive errors. I am left with posting my response in this blog.

Pyongyang is not in Armenia

David Davidian*

An English-language newspaper in Korea, that doesn't seem to respond to email, published an Opinion on 2016-09-12, entitled “Nuclear Facility in Armenia”. The author was attempting to equate the recent nuclear weapons test in North Korea with unsubstantiated claims that the country of Armenia has nuclear weapons and is a major trafficker in nuclear materials. These are baseless claims.

Just a little research, such as a quick glance at Table 2, shows less than 1 nuclear transport incident a year associated with Armenia or Azerbaijan, 2/yr for Georgia, 4/yr for Turkey, 6/yr for Ukraine, and 15/yr for Russia. These numbers alone call into question the reason for such an Opinion piece being written with Armenia as the target and not Russia or Ukraine.

If Armenia has somehow magically “gone nuclear” or has old soviet nuclear weapons, it would not be a secret regardless of what some disgruntled former PM said. The lack of veracity in his claim is having made it at all, and further, he has not been able to prove what he claimed. Yet the author of the Opinion uses that as a basis for his article.

Among other things, the author claims Armenia's only nuclear plant is the source of such material, yet neglects to note that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has deemed safety at the Armenian nuclear plant as adequate. Read what the US government's RFE-RL Armenia service had to say on the subject:

In addition, it is claimed the Armenian nuclear reactor is a Chernobyl carbon-moderated design. It is not. It is a pressurized water nuclear reactor, the same primary technology used in the Kori, Hanul, Wolsong, and Hanbit power plants in Korea.

The author claims that some unnamed Armenian group was attempting to sell a quantity of U-238 without noting that natural Uranium ore is composed of 99.284% Uranium-238, none of which are used in fission weapons or dirty bombs.

Perhaps the reason the Opinion piece in The Korean Times appeared was due to a request by Azerbaijan, now in a frozen conflict with Armenia. Azerbaijan has extensive hydrocarbon and real estate dealings with Seoul.

If the Korean media wishes to extol the benefits of trade between Korea and Azerbaijan, or any other country, that is great. However, there is no reason to engage in baseless anti-Armenia propaganda. Good Armenian-Korean relations need not suffer.

Yerevan, Armenia

* David Davidian is an Adjunct Lecturer at the American University of Armenia.