Atomic power plant to assist in meeting demand for energy in Turkey: INTERVIEW with Turkish representative to UN and IAEA

Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 9 / Trend U. Sadikhova /

Turkish deputy permanent representative to UN and other international organizations in Vienna, including IAEA Nılvana Darama spoke in an exclusive interview with Trend Middle East desk.

Trend : In your opinion, what will be the attitude of the EU to Turkey's plans to start developing a nuclear program for peaceful purposes?

Nılvana Darama: The debate for developing a nuclear power program is not new on Turkey's agenda. Starting from 1974, previous Turkish Govenments considered this option seriously, but could not finalize or implement plans for an integrated nuclear energy program for various domestic reasons. At present, there are no nuclear power plants in operation, under construction or decommissioned in Turkey. However, we consider the integration of nuclear energy into our supply package as a viable option to meet Turkey's energy requirements in the medium to long term.

All states which comply with their obligations emanating from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have the undisputed right to benefit from nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The EU does not interfere with decisions made at the national level in respect of developing nuclear programs for peaceful purposes. A recent EU Council directive on nuclear safety issues clearly states that "each Member State may decide on its energy mix in accordance with relevant national policies". There are of course EU requirements for Member States to meet internationally developed nuclear safety standards at their nuclear installations.  

Turkey is in the process of updating its existing nuclear legislation in line with fundamental safety principles set by the IAEA, which constitute the main reference in this respect. This process will also contribute to further harmonizing Turkey's national legislation with that of the EU Member States.

Q.: Can it also cause a competition between the regional countries for nuclear supremacy?

A.: As Turkey's aim is to diversify her energy resources and to maintain energy security, any ground for competition between regional countries is not relevant. Turkey's decision to develop a nuclear power program based solely on an assessment of its national energy requirements. With a growing population and a rapidly expanding economy, Turkey's dependence on fossil fuel resources from external suppliers present a great challenge to its energy security. We are currently looking at the possibilities of diversifying our energy resources both in type and origin to meet this demand.

In the last couple of years, interest in nuclear energy has dramatically increased not only in our region, but also beyond. Energy security is a valid domestic concern for us all.

Q.: How does Turkey's representative in the IAEA intend to promote their initiatives and plans for the cleaning of the Middle East from nuclear weapons?

A.: Turkey fully recognizes the importance and value of the existing security assurances, as provided through the protocols on the nuclear weapon free zones (NWFZ) and unilateral declarations of nuclear weapons states. We believe that legally binding security assurances will complement and strengthen the NPT regime.

Turkey also highly values the NWFZ wherever practically feasible. Assurance of total absence of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in a particular geographical area would have an important impact on the security concerns of the states in that specific region.

In this context, Turkey supports the establishment of an effectively verifiable zone, free of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery in the Middle East and encourages all efforts for developing a common regional understanding on this project, with the participation of all parties concerned.

Turkey remains committed to all resolutions on the Middle East adopted by the UN General Assembly and the NPT Review Conferences. We call upon all states in the region that have not yet done so, to accede to the NPT as well as the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.

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