Turkey should press ahead with nuclear, president says

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The nuclear crisis in Japan should not lead Turkey to abandon its plans to build nuclear plants, President Abdullah Gul said Friday, adding that Turkey was already lagging in the nuclear field.

"It would be a mistake for Turkey to suddenly say it renounces nuclear energy," Gul was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying on a visit to Kirikkale province in the centre of the country.

Turkey is dependent on energy supplies from abroad, as it imports natural gas and oil, Gul said, and he expressed doubt about the effectiveness of alternative sources.

"It is clear that alternative energy sources would (fail) to satisfy the need," he said, according to Anatolia.

Energy drives development and prosperity, Gul said, and several countries known for their caution on the issue, such as Finland, France or the United States, have nuclear power plants.

But he stressed the need for increased attention to safety isues.

"We all have to examine in more detail our agreements and to reassess the technology and safety measures in the nuclear field."

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Friday negotiations between Turkey and Japan to build a nuclear plant in Sinop on the Black Sea coast, after another planned for the Mediterranean coast, might be postponed because of the emergency in Japan.

"I cannot foresee how the possible consequences of the quake in Japan would affect our agreement. (But) our determination goes on," Yildiz said on television, Anatolia reported.

Ankara and Moscow reached an agreement in May 2010 to build Turkey's first nuclear plant in Akkuyu in Mersin province in the south, angering environmentalists who warn of seismic hazards in the region.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Wednesday to press on with plans for building the reactor despite the Japanese nuclear accident.

"Earthquakes are possible everywhere and our country is on seismically dangerous territory. But we understand the ways to secure the objects that we are building," Erdogan said before leaving Ankara for Russia.

"There is no investment without risk. Or you should not use a gas cylinder in your home, either," he said.

The government plans to build three nuclear power plants within five years in Turkey.



© 2011 AFP

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