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Last Updated: July, 2015

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Armenia did not have any weapons of mass destruction on its territory, nor did Soviet-era industry manufacture any key components for weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery on Armenian territory. Armenia possesses some conventional weapons production capabilities, mostly as a result of its long-standing conflict with Muslim Azerbaijan over a primarily Armenian-populated region, Nagorno-Karabakh. [1]


Armenia is a party to the NPT, has an Additional Protocol with the IAEA, and has ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

There are two known nuclear research facilities in Armenia: the Yerevan Institute of Physics and the Analitsark Research Facility in Gyumri. [2] Neither houses fissile material. Armenia has one nuclear power plant, Metsamor, (also known as the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant), which contains two VVER-440 reactor units and produces approximately 40% of the country's electricity. [3] Unit 1 went critical in 1976 and Unit 2 in 1980. [4] Both units were shut down after the 1988 earthquake. Unit 1 is permanently out of operation, while Unit 2 was re-commissioned in 1995. [5] The re-opening of Unit 2 played a crucial role during the period of economic recovery following Armenia's independence by providing Armenia with surplus power capacity. [6] While the government had planned to close the unit by 2017, it decided in October 2012 to extend the life of the old reactor for another ten years. [7] In March 2014, the Armenian government approved a plan to extend the plant's operational lifespan further until 2026 with repairs to be made beginning in 2017. [8] These repairs will be funded by the Russian Federation, which has offered Armenia a grant of $30 million and a loan of $270 million to complete the necessary work. [9] The Russian Federation supplies the nuclear fuel necessary for Metsamor's operation under a 2003 agreement between Moscow and Yerevan that ceded management of the plant to Russia's electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems (UES). [10]

In response to the proposed extension of Metsamor's operational lifespan, expert bodies and representatives from the region expressed concerns about the potential for accidents at the site, given the age of the reactor and a history of seismic activity in the area. [11] A 2015 staff working document prepared by the office of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Commission states that, "since the power plant cannot be upgraded to meet current internationally recognized nuclear safety standards; it should be closed as soon as possible." [12] While noting that closure of the plant remains a key objective for the European Union under the European Neighborhood Policy action plan, the drafters of the report also indicate that the European Commission plans to peer review a stress test report on the plant in 2015 conducted by Armenia as part of its promotion of the highest nuclear safety standards worldwide. Turkey and Azerbaijan have been similarly vocal in expressing their concerns about the nuclear power plant, though some of these critiques may also reflect longstanding political and historical tensions between these countries and Armenia: In a statement before the UN Security Council in 2012, the Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the United Nations voiced reservations regarding the security of the Metsamor plant in the context of a discussion on preventing nuclear trafficking. [13] At the May 2015 International Energy and Environment Fair and Conference, the Turkish Energy Minister called on environmentalists to march in protest of the plant as outdated and unsafe. [14]

Armenia has worked closely with the IAEA, the United States, and other states to improve the physical security of Metsamor, investing millions of dollars in security enhancements. [15] In spite of Yerevan's commitment to security at the plant, officials have refused to export its spent nuclear fuel to be stored or recycled, and have moved forward with plans to construct a third storage facility for the material. The 2003 management agreement with Russia stipulates that spent fuel be transferred to Russia. [16] In fall 2014, the power plant was taken offline for 53 days, during which time new security measures were introduced and annual maintenance was performed. [17] Armenia does not export its spent nuclear fuel, and has expressed plans to embark on a third phase of spent fuel dry storage construction in conjunction with French company TN international in 2014. [18]

In August 2010, Russia and Armenia signed a cooperation agreement for the construction of at least one 1,000 MW, $5 billion unit at Metsamor to be owned by Metzamorenergoatom, a Russian-Armenian joint stock company. [19] While construction on the new power unit was originally slated to begin in 2011, Russia's Rosatom and the Armenian government repeatedly announced delays, citing financial concerns. [20] Subsequently, on the sidelines of the 2015 Atomexpo forum in Moscow, Rosatom's Director for International Business explained in an interview that upgrading Metsamor's second power unit was more cost effective than constructing a new one. [21] Nevertheless, in a press release dated February 2015, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources indicated that construction on a new power unit at Metsamor is now slated to begin in 2018 in the hopes that it will be operational in 2027. [22] The press release did not enumerate the countries who would invest in the new unit. Subsequently, at a meeting with the Premier of the People's Republic of China's State Council in March 2015, Armenian president Serge Sargsyan reportedly discussed the potential for Chinese involvement in the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Armenia. [23] In May 2015, a second press release from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources cited that agency's Minister as indicating that negotiations with potential investors for the construction of a new power plant were ongoing, including with the China National Nuclear Corporation. [24]

Armenia is a participant in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Committee on Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy. [25] Armenia has also joined the International Uranium Enrichment Center at Angarsk, Russia. [26]

The United States has provided ongoing assistance to Armenia for improving its export control system and border security. [27] In May 2012 Armenia and the United States concluded a bilateral agreement to curb the trafficking of Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) materials through Armenian territory, where in recent years a number of Armenian citizens have been caught trying to sell radioactive materials. [28] With U.S. assistance, Armenia opened a new nuclear forensics lab in January 2013 to enable the government to investigate and prosecute smugglers more effectively. [29]

On May 13, 2013, Armenia and Belarus signed an agreement on information exchange and cooperation in nuclear safety and radiation protection. As a result, Armenia is expected to send about a dozen nuclear experts to assist Belarus in operating its first nuclear plant, currently under construction. [30]


Armenia acceded to the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC) on June 7, 1994. There is no evidence that Armenia possesses or is pursuing biological weapons. During the Soviet era, the Armenian Center for Prophylaxis of Especially Dangerous Diseases (formerly known as the Armenian Anti-Plague Station) was part of the Soviet anti-plague system. The role of this facility was to control endemic diseases and prevent the importation of exotic pathogens that could threaten crops, animals, and humans. [31] In the late 1960s, the system also was tasked with defending the USSR against biological attacks. The center's present goal is to protect against infectious outbreaks of deadly diseases and to study domestic zoonotic pathogens. Additionally, a special facility to research prions was established in 2001. [32]


On May 15, 1992, Armenia signed the Tashkent Agreement of the Commonwealth of Independent States, according to which Russia was acknowledged as the legal inheritor of Soviet chemical weapons. In signing the agreement, Armenia agreed to comply with the 1925 Geneva Protocol, to abide by the Soviet moratorium of 1987 on the production of chemical weapons, to coordinate its policy with a view to achieving the speedy conclusion of a multilateral and verifiable convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons, and to coordinate its policy in regards to controlling the export of dual-use chemicals. Armenia is a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a founding member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).


Armenia possesses a limited arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles. Between 1993 and 1996, Russia secretly transferred a number of short-range ballistic missiles to Armenia. [33] As of 2005 the country possessed 32 operational R-17 Elbrus missiles (NATO designation SS-1-C Scud-B) and eight launchers, with a range of 300 km. [34] In 2010, the Armenian defense ministry confirmed that it had an unspecified number of Russian-made S-300 (NATO designation SA-10 Grumble) surface-to-air missiles. [35] At a military parade in Yerevan in September 2011, the Armenian military for the first time publicly displayed its tactical ballistic missiles, which included several short-range OTR-21-U Tochka missiles (NATO designation SS-21 Scarab C). [36] The Russian military, which operates bases in the country through a joint defense agreement, has also deployed several Iskander-M (NATO designation SS-26 Stone) systems in Armenia, which have an operational range of 400 km and are designed to evade theater missile defense systems. [37] The Iskander is under Russian control and the missile would not play any role in an Armenian conflict. Armenia is dependent on Russia as its primary source of missile technology, and does not produce ballistic missiles domestically.

[1] "Defence-Industrial Sector of ARM MOD," Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Armenia,
[2] "Post-Soviet Nuclear and Defense Monitor," April 25, 1995, p. 12; Yerevan Physics Institute,
[3] Sargis Harutyunyan, "International Experts Find Adequate Safety at Armenian Nuclear Plant," Azatutyun Radiokayan, June 2, 2011,; "Republic of Armenia: 2014 Article VI Consultation and First Review under the Extended Arrangement-Staff Report, Staff Supplement, and Press Release," Report by the International Monetary Fund, March 11, 2015,
[4] "Power Reactor Information System," International Atomic Energy Agency,
[5] "Armenia-2 Restarts After Six-Year Shutdown," Nuclear News, December 1995.
[6] Emil Danielyan, "New Armenian Power Plant Set for Launch," Azatutyun Radiokayan, December 21, 2011,
[7] "Government extends service life of Metsamor NPP for another ten years," ARKA News Agency, October 18, 2012,
[8] "Armyanskaya AES posle remonta vnov' podsoedinena k energoseti strany," RIA Novosti, November 20, 2014,; Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, "AAES gotovit'sia k remontnym rabotam 2017 goda," Press release, Government of the Republic of Armenia, February 17, 2015,
[9] Armyanskaya AES posle remonta vnov' podsoedinena k energoseti strany," RIA Novosti, November 20, 2014,; "Russia and Armenia agree to unit 2 life extension," World Nuclear News, December 23, 2014,
[10] Emil Danielyan, "Armenian Nuclear Plant to Function for Another Decade," Eurasia Daily Monitor, August 8, 2005.
[11] "EU again calls on Armenia to stop using Metsamor NPP," Trend News, March 21, 2013,; Sabina Idayatova, "Metsamor nuclear power plant not to survive major quakes: expert," AzerNews, May 21, 2013,
[12 Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Armenia: Progress in 2014 and recommendations for actions. Joint staff working document prepared by the Office of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. (Brussels: European Commission, 2015),
[13] Security Council, Highlighting Threat from Terrorism, Illicit Nuclear Trafficking, Reaffirms Need for Compliance with Arms Control, Non-Proliferation Commitments," United Nations Meetings Coverage, April 19, 2012,
[14] Merve Erdil, "Turkey's energy minister calls on environmentalists to march against nuke plant in Armenia," Hurriyet Daily News, May 7, 2015,
[15] Vigen Margaryan, "$25 Million Will Be Allocated to Increase Armenian Nuclear Power Plant Security," Yerevan Report, May 31, 2011,
[16] "Armenia sets up state nuclear security agency," BBC Monitoring, July 18, 2008.
[17] Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, "Atomnaia elektrostantsia vozobnovila proizvodstvo elektroenergii," Press release, Government of the Republic of Armenia, November 20, 2014,
[18] "Country Nuclear Power Profile 2014 Edition: Armenia," Report prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency, updated 2014,
[19] "Russia, Armenia Seal Agreement on Cooperation in Nuclear Unit Construction," Arka News Agency, August 21, 2010,;
[20] "RF to build nuclear reactor with modern technologies in Armenia," ITAR-TASS, February 7, 2012, retrieved from
[21] "Plan to extend exploitation of Armenian nuclear block cost-effective - Rosatom Director,", June 2, 2015.
[22] Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, "Ministr prinial predstaviteley mezhdunarodnogo valiuta fonda," Press release, Government of the Republic of Armenia, February 9, 2015,
[23] "President Serzh Sargsyan Meets with Premier of PRC State Council Li Kequiang," Press release, President of the Republic of Armenia, March 26, 2015,
[24] Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, "A Year of Working Results," Press release, Government of the Republic of Armenia, May 13, 2015,
[25] "CIS Committee on Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy Meets in Moscow," Oreanda-News, March 13, 2009.
[26] "Armenia to shut Metsamor, join Angarsk," World Nuclear News, November 30, 2007,
[27] "Priority Assistance Project to Help Armenia Combat Nuclear Smuggling," Nuclear Smuggling Outreach Initiative,; "Export Control and Related Border Security," Embassy of the United States in Armenia, May 18, 2005,
[28] "Armenia to Get U.S. Aid Against WMD Smuggling," Global Security Newswire, May 23, 2012,
[29] "Lab opened in Armenia to fight nuclear material smuggling," Xinhua News Agency, January 18, 2013.
[30] "Belarus expects skilled Armenian nuclear specialists to help run its first nuclear power plant," ARKA News Agency, May 13, 2013,
[31] Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Alexander Melikishvili, and Raymond A. Zilinskas "The Anti-plague System of Armenia," The Anti-plague System in the Newly Independent States, 1992 and Onwards: Assessing Proliferation Risks and Potential for Enhanced Public Health in Central Asia and the Caucasus, January 3, 2008, pp. 8-17,
[32] Haroutune Armenian, Byron Crape, Ruzanna Grigoryan, Hripsime Martirosyan, Varduhi Petrosyan, and Nune Truzyan, "Analysis of Public Health Services in Armenia." Paper prepared for the Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization Country Office in Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia 2009.
[33] Joseph Cirincione, Jon B. Wolfsthal, and Miriam Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005), p. 113.
[34] Andrew Feickert, "Missile Survey: Ballistic and Cruise Missiles of Selected Foreign Countries," Congressional Research Service, Updated July 26, 2005.
[35] Emil Danielyan, "Armenia Displays Sophisticated Air Defense Systems," Eurasia Daily Monitor, January 19, 2011.
[36] "OTR-21A/-21B (SS-21)," Missile Threat (A Project of the George C. Marshall and Claremont Institutes), Updated October 17, 2012,
[37] "Russia Stations Advanced Missiles in Armenia," Asbarez Armenian News, June 3, 2013,

Get the Facts on Armenia
  • Operated an anti-plague facility on its territory during the Soviet era
  • Acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in 1994
  • State party to the CWC and a founding member of the OPCW

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.