Serkan Alan/ DUVAR

Main opposition Republican People’s Party deputy Deniz Yavuzyılmaz from the province of Zonguldak has presented a parliamentary question and a research inquiry regarding the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, located in Armenia 16 kilometers from the eastern Turkish province of Iğdır. 

Yavuzyılmaz pointed to the fact that the power plant opened in 1977, the same year as the Chernobyl disaster, and was supposed to be shuttered in 2005, but has remained open on the basis that it supplies a necessary segment of Armenia’s energy needs. 

A National Geographic report in 2011 asked “Is Armenia’s Nuclear Plant the World’s Most Dangerous?”, citing the fact that the plant “lies on some of Earth’s most earthquake-prone terrain.” 

In response to Yavuzyılmaz’s question, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey has emphasized that the plant, which is functioning with outdated technology, presents a great risk to the region but did not specify what, if any, precautions were being taken on Turkey’s part. 

“However, there are a number of precautions that need to be made. As you are aware, iodine tablets are the only solution that can save one’s life in the event of a nuclear disaster. Six hours before the radioactivity spreads, they need to be taken. In a number of countries in Europe there are nuclear power plants. As of August 2019, Germany had a stock of 189.5 million iodine tablets, while the Netherlands has distributed 1.2 million iodine tablets to its citizens,” Yavuzyılmaz said. 

“In our question, we asked the Ministry of Health and the other relevant ministries what precautions have made, how many iodine tablets are available, and whether or not these tablets have been distributed throughout different urban centers in Turkey. Unfortunately, these days when our hospitals lack even the most basic antibiotics and painkillers, it is clear that that they also lack iodine tablets,” he added.

Yavuzyılmaz said that in an event of a nuclear disaster at the Metsamor plant, it would be impossible to distribute iodine tablets throughout all of Turkey within six hours, and that measures would have to be taken well in advance of a hypothetical disaster. The opposition MP called on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to take the necessary precautions.