You are here

Turkish nuclear power project agreement

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

On October 29 the Turkish government signed an agreement with a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to build four nuclear power reactors in the Black Sea city of Sinop at an estimated cost of more than US$22 billion.

The agreement marks Japan's first nuclear plant export since the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The Japanese government hopes that the contract with Turkey will improve Japan's chances in winning competition for nuclear power projects in Vietnam, India and Russia, among other countries. Tokyo's Abe administration has signed nuclear energy agreements with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, and has agreed to start discussing a nuclear energy agreement with Saudi Arabia as well as resuming talks with India, which were suspended in the aftermath of Fukushima.[1]

Some disaster victims are unhappy with Abe's push for nuclear plant exports while problems continue to mount in Japan. Soichi Saito, a 63-year-old who evacuated from Futaba and heads an association of temporary housing residents in Iwaki, told Asahi Shimbun: "How dare he sell nuclear power plants abroad when he has not been able to bring an accident under control? What does he think of victims of the nuclear disaster?"[1] Even the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly urged her husband to stop exporting nuclear technology since the government is struggling to contain the situation at Fukushima.[11]

The Mainichi Shimbun reported on October 14 that about 40% of Japanese nuclear plant equipment exported over the past decade failed to go through national government safety inspections. Inspections of equipment to be exported are only carried out if manufacturers receive loans from the government-affiliated Japan Bank for International Cooperation or take out insurance policies from Nippon Export and Investment Insurance. The Mainichi Shimbun states that this "is in sharp contrast to the requirement that all devices for domestic nuclear power stations be subject to strict government safety inspections."[2]

Among the items exported without inspection are key components such as nuclear reactor pressure vessels, their lids and control rod driving systems. Keio University professor Masaru Kaneko said: "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed in a speech overseas that Japan can provide the world's safest atomic power technology, but how can Japan guarantee the safety of nuclear plant equipment Japanese firms export without a proper system to examine it?"[2]

Opposition to the Japan-Turkey Nuclear Agreement

Japanese NGOs, including the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society and Friends of the Earth Japan, are promoting petitions calling on the Japan's National Diet not to ratify the Japan-Turkey Nuclear Agreement.

Issues raised by the groups include:

  • Turkey is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.
  • The Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) is conducting a geological survey in Sinop, Turkey, but it is the JAPC arguing that fault lines under the Tsuruga nuclear plant in Japan are inactive even though the Nuclear Regulation Authority has determined otherwise.
  • Turkey does not have an independent nuclear regulator, and the Atomic Energy Authority functions both as promoter and regulator.
  • Turkey does not have plans for disposing of radioactive waste.
  • The mayor of Sinop was elected in 2009 on the anti-nuclear platform that rejected the construction of nuclear reactors in terms of their negative effects on the city's tourism industry. Since then, he has continued to express his opposition. Sinop residents have also organised numerous demonstrations against the construction of nuclear reactors.

To sign the petition and for more information visit:

It seems unlikely that the Japanese parliament will consider the Nuclear Agreement before the current session ends on December 6.[10]

Failed nuclear projects in Turkey

World Nuclear News outlines a long history of failed nuclear power projects in Turkey: "Several nuclear power projects have been proposed over the years in Turkey: In 1970 a feasibility study concerned a 300 MWe plant; in 1973 the electricity authority decided to build a 80 MWe demonstration plant but didn't; in 1976 the Akkuyu site on the Mediterranean coast near the port of Mersin was licensed for a nuclear plant. In 1980 an attempt to build several plants failed for lack of government financial guarantee. In 1993 a nuclear plant was included in the country's investment program following a request for preliminary proposals in 1992 but revised tender specifications were not released until December 1996. Bids for a 2000 MWe plant at Akkuyu were received from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, Westinghouse & Mitsubishi as well as Framatome & Siemens. Following the final bid deadline in October 1997, the government delayed its decision no less than eight times between June 1998 and April 2000, when plans were abandoned due to economic circumstances."[3]

The pattern persisted in the 2000s. A tender for the construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant ended in September 2008 with only one bid − an expensive Russian offer for four VVER reactors put forward by AtomStroyExport in conjunction with Inter Rao and Park Teknik of Turkey. In late 2009, authorities cancelled the tender process [3] following a successful court challenge against the project launched by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects.[4]

Akkuya nuclear project

Despite the cancellation of the tender process in 2009, plans for four Russian-built, Russian-financed VVER-1200 reactors are still being pursued, and site preparation has begun at Akkuya. Project partners hope to secure a reactor construction licence in 2014.[5] It is said to be the world's first nuclear power project based on BOO (build-own-operate) principles − under the long-term contract, the Russian company Akkuyu NPP JSC, a subsidiary of Rosatom, will design, construct, operate and decommission the plant, take a 51% stake in the project, and benefit from a guaranteed price for the electricity generated. As at Sinop, there is significant opposition to the Akkuya nuclear project.[6,7,8,9]

In June 2012, energy minister Taner Yildiz said Turkey is "determined to have nuclear power plants" and wants to build "at least 23 nuclear units by the year 2023".[9]

[1] 31 Oct 2013,
[2] 14 Oct 2013, '40% of Japan nuclear tech exported over past decade failed to go through safety check',
[3] WNN, 9 Dec 2009, 'Turkey abandons nuclear bid',
[4] Ozgur Gurbuz, 20 Nov 2009, 'Another setback on Turkey's nuclear dream',
[5] WNN, 3 May 2013, 'First selection of Atmea1 nuclear reactor',
[8] Elisabeth Jeffries, 20 Nov 2013, 'BOO: exploring the model for emerging markets',
[9] John Daly, 21 Nov 2013, 'Foreign Investment Sought for Turkey's First Nuclear Power Plant',
[11] 13 Nov 2013, 'Wife tells Japan Prime Minister to stop exporting nuclear plants',

More information: