Staunton, July 5 – Kemaleddin Pirmuezin, chairman of the Iranian parliament’s environmental protection committee, says that waste from the Armenian atomic energy station and an Armenian aluminum processing plant is flowing into the Arax River and producing 1,000 cases of cancer every year among those who live on that trans-border river’s banks.
“These actions of a neighboring country,” the Iranian deputy says, “are disturbing our people. This is impermissible, and Iran and Armenia must find an acceptable means for saving the Arax River and preserving the environment” (turkist.org/2015/07/armenia-iran-azerbaijan-aras-river.html).
The Arax, the longest river in the southern Caucaus, rises in eastern Turkey, flows along the Turkish-Armenian border, along the southern border of Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Republic, and then along the Iranian-Azerbaijani border. After that it joins the Kura River and falls into the Caspian Sea.
In the past, the use of its water by countries along its banks has been a source of controversy, but this new charge by an Iranian deputy is disturbing not only on its face but because it will recall to Azerbaijanis, given that Turkist.org cited a Baku source for its story, a concern they had at the start of the Karabakh war.
Many Azerbaijanis feared that the Armenians would pollute rivers rising in Nagorno-Karabakh and the other Armenian-occupied territories and that this would have a negative impact on the health and well-being of Azerbaijanis far from that zone. Indeed, Soviet forces were at one point introduced at least in part to block the construction of an aluminum plant.
Anything that recalls that tragic history will only exacerbate tensions in the area.