Science for Peace and Security

Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, Armenia has received grant awards for about 38 projects for scientific and environmental collaboration. Projects undertaken include the prevention, detection and response to nuclear and radiological threats, risk assessment on natural disasters and water security.

Other projects include collaboration on improving trans-boundary water quality with Azerbaijan and Georgia, and network technology studies. Armenia also participates in the Virtual Silk Highway project, which aims to improve internet access for academics and research communities in the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia through a satellite-based network.

Armenia has been involved in NATO science activities since 1993. In total, scientists and experts from Armenia have had leading roles in 143 activities, and have joined other cooperative activities as participants and key speakers.

A SPS workshop in Yerevan, Armenia, that took place on 26-29 May 2009, examined topics related to “Nuclear Power and Energy Security”. The workshop analyzed the status and potential of nuclear power as an option for meeting future energy needs. This SPS event gathered representatives from the local government, industry and academy who discussed the interrelated challenges involved, mainly focused on the relatively high economic costs, health and environmental safety risks, possible security risks stemming from nuclear proliferation, and the challenges of long-term management of nuclear wastes, as well as ways to overcome them.

As part of a multi-year project, “Inventory, Monitoring and Analysis of Obsolete Pesticides in Armenia”, Armenian scientists are cooperating with those from the Czech Republic and Greece to catalogue polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other discarded pesticides, laying the groundwork for their proper disposal. The task is to compile an inventory of the stocks of these chemicals throughout the territory of the Republic of Armenia and to map the contaminated sites where they have been used. This will also entail the establishment of an analytical laboratory, including modern equipment and training for personnel. The laboratory will be used for the assessment of existing chemical stocks and contaminated areas, as well as for the continual monitoring of PCBs in soil, surface water, food and agricultural products. An accompanying assessment will be made of the health risks posed.

Researchers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the United States, Italy, Greece, Canada and Turkey are cooperating on a new project to gather comprehensive seismic observations, conduct hazard analyses and prepare for effective response to emergencies in the Southern Caucasus region. The project, entitled “Caucasus Seismic Emergency Response (CauSER)”, will update a regional seismic network by adding additional instrumentation and recording equipment. The experts intend to create a regional earthquake attenuation model and study the response of buildings and structures to strong earthquakes. A communication network will link Data Acquisition Centres in the region and allow them to acquire earthquake data. The project co-directors have established contacts with the end-users of the project, including the Departments of Urbaniza-tion and Construction, Nature Protection and Emergency Structures in Armenia.

Starting in April 2007, scientists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the United States have cooperated in improving the “Water Resources Management of Agro-Ecosystems in the South Caucasus”. The project involves the demonstration of state-of-the art irrigation techniques and use of more accurate methods of estimating water use. To this end, a 6.5 ha demonstration plot with a 4.5 ha drip irrigation scheme was established in Georgia. The drip irrigation scheme has resulted in yields that are four to five times higher than those obtained with traditional irrigation systems, as well as water savings that are up to four to five times. There has been much interest shown by local producers in purchasing drip irrigation systems, and local farmers have begun to participate in the project. Texperts also foresee the establishment of a South Caucasus Scientific Research, Information and Extension Centre.

SPS networking infrastructure grants provide Internet connectivity, information technology and network equipment for academic institutions in NATO’s Partner countries. Ongoing networking projects include the development, improvement and expansion of the Armenia Research and Educational Network Association (ARENA). The projects have enabled academicians and young scientists to have easy access to the World Wide Web and the possibility to exchange large documents and datasets with their local and foreign counterparts. In addition, researchers can sign up to distance learning programmes and set up video conference facilities. This helps promote collaboration and integration in the international scientific community.