Ankara ‘adds’ uranium clause in nuclear deal with Tokyo

Ankara ‘adds’ uranium clause in nuclear deal with Tokyo

Ankara ‘adds’ uranium clause in nuclear deal with Tokyo

Visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signs a commemorative plate as Mitsubishi delivers a "Turksat-4A" satellite to Turkish space company Turksat at Mitsubishi's Kamakura plant in Kamakura, suburban Tokyo, Jan. 8. AFP photo

Ankara demanded allowance for uranium enrichment and plutonium extraction in a nuclear export deal inked with Tokyo, a Japanese daily quoted as a Japanese Foreign Ministry official as saying.

A clause, which was added in the nuclear agreement signed by the two nations, upon Turkey’s demand prompted concerns over a possible proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The clause at issue allows Turkey to enrich uranium and extract plutonium, potentially creating nuclear material for weapons, Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun reported on Jan. 8.

A senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official claimed the clause was added at the request of Turkey, the daily also reported.

A joint venture involving Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has won an order to construct Turkey’s second nuclear plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was in Japan since Jan. 5, and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, had signed a $22 billion deal on the nuclear plant project.

Safety issues

The pact paves the way for exporting Japan’s enrichment and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing technologies and is expected to be discussed at the Japanese Parliament soon before voting on its approval.

The deal was on the agenda during a meeting between the Turkish and Japanese prime ministers on Jan. 7 in Tokyo, as they have agreed to accelerate the process.

Japanese exports and anti-nuclear opposition members voice concerns over Japan’s first nuclear export after the Fukushima disaster, claiming allowing Turkey’s enrichment and extraction activities would contradict Japan’s stance against nuclear weapons.

Moreover, Turkey’s earthquake-prone geographical condition stirs safety debates in the country that became over-sensitive about the issue after experiencing the Fukushima disaster of 2011 that killed around 20,000 people.

Yuki Tanabe of the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society, a nonprofit organization, pointed out a seismic risk in Turkey, where more than 17,000 people died in a major earthquake in 1999, the daily reported. “Even if Japanese nuclear reactors are highly resistant to earthquakes, an accident could occur when facilities around them are damaged,” Tanabe told Asahi Shimbun.