Turkey gets nuclear fever

From Turkey’s Zaman, March 9:

Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said they spoke with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) President Mohammed El Baradei about Turkey’s nuclear energy program, which is expected to be announced shortly, in addition to current regional issues.

In the scope of his Vienna contacts Gul met with El Baradei for almost an hour at the United Nations Office in Vienna.

The Turkish Foreign Minister, in a short statement after the meeting, said they did not meet to talk about Iran’s nuclear problem; on the contrary, they took up only the current regional problems with El Baradei.

From a March 7 Washington Post analysis by Karl Vick, via Bulgaria’s Focus News:

Turkey is reviving its long-deferred quest for nuclear power, pressed both by serious energy shortfalls within its own borders and by strident nuclear ambitions in neighboring Iran that threaten to upset a regional balance of power.

“The rise in oil prices and the need for multiple sources of energy make our need for nuclear energy an utmost priority,” Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said last month in announcing plans to build as many as five atomic energy plants. The first, to be located on the Black Sea at Sinop, would come on line in 2012 and ease Turkey’s costly dependence on natural gas, 90 percent of which arrives by pipeline from Russia and Iran.

With a rapidly expanding economy, a population of 70 million and scarce petroleum deposits, Turkey appears to be a logical candidate for nuclear power. Guler, who made his remarks while visiting a nuclear plant in Virginia, said the new Turkish reactors could provide about a tenth of the 54,000 megawatts the country expects to need over the next two decades…

Neighboring Iran’s nuclear program, which the United States and other countries have called a cover for developing nuclear weapons, also looms over the revival of Turkey’s program, which has had numerous false starts since the early 1960s. Iran and Turkey are almost identical in population and economy and regard each other roughly as equals in a famously combustible region with no dominant power.

“Iran with nuclear production will be the dominant power,” said Ozdem Sanberk, a former ambassador to Washington who heads the Turkish Economic and Social Studies research group in Istanbul. “There will be an asymmetrical relationship.”
Sanberk has argued recently that Turkey has no choice but to pursue a nuclear program of its own under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“If we want to leave an independent country to our future generations, we do not have the luxury to delay,” Sanberk wrote.

Oy vey.

See our last post on Turkey.