Turkey inaugurated its first nuclear plant at Akkuyu on its Mediterranean coast on Thursday in a virtual ceremony addressed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“Our country has been promoted to the league of nuclear power countries after a 60-year delay,” Erdogan said, addressing the Akkuyu NPP First Nuclear Fuel Delivery Ceremony.
The NPP officially became a nuclear power facility with the delivery of the first fresh nuclear fuel on the plant site, the Turkish president said.
“With the delivery of nuclear fuels coming by air and sea to our power plant, Akkuyu has now gained the identity of a nuclear facility,” Erdogan stated.
The power plant, built by Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom, is “the biggest joint investment” between Turkey and Russia, the president emphasized.
In light of the experience in Akkuyu, Turkey will act as soon as possible for the second and third nuclear power plants of the country, Erdogan stated.
The Akkuyu nuclear power plant has been loaded with fuel & inaugurated by Putin & Erdogan, just in time for the Turkish election.
Russia & Turkey, together forever! (Or at least for the 80 years that Russia will own & operate the plant.) pic.twitter.com/QNo98rdja7
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) April 27, 2023
“This is a flagship project and it brings both mutual economic benefits and, of course, helps to strengthen the multifaceted partnership between our two states,” Putin said.
Russia is not merely building a nuclear power plant, but a new nuclear industry and economic field is being established in Turkey thanks to Akkuyu, Putin added
Putin described Akkuyu as “the largest nuclear construction project in the world” and noted that it would mean Turkey having to import less Russian natural gas in the future.
“But Turkey will enjoy the advantage of a country that has its own nuclear energy, and nuclear energy, as you know, is one of the cheapest,” he added..
Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom started building the first of four planned reactors at the Akkuyu plant in 2018. When completed, the plant’s four reactors will operate with a total capacity of 4,800 megawatts.
Nuclear weapons suspicions
Despite Turkey’s claims the plant will only be used to diversify energy resources, some have suggested Ankara may have plans to enrich uranium.
Al Jazeera reported recently that Turkey and nuclear-armed Pakistan have had military cooperation agreements intensified recently with some news reports suggesting Islamabad may be covertly supporting a nuclear weapons program.
Military cooperation deals were signed recently with Kazakhstan, a country providing at least 35 percent of the world’s uranium.
Asked by Al Jazeera about possible nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, the senior energy official in Ankara said during meetings in Vienna there have been talks about possible cooperation on peaceful use under IAEA control, especially in radiation technologies and cancer treatment.
Greece alarmed at Turkish nuclear plans
In 2021 Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias marked the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster by calling on Turkey to discuss its plans for constructing a nuclear power plant with its neighbors.
In a Tweet, the Greek FM stated “The Chernobyl disaster, the largest nuclear disaster in history, is a constant reminder of the lurking dangers. As I have already stated, Turkey must reach an understanding with its neighboring countries on the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project.”