South Korea willing to talk nuclear again
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily NewsSouth Korea is willing to restart talks on a contract to construct a multi-billion dollar nuclear power plant in northern Turkey but said the initiative to resume the process was up to the Turkish side, South Korea’s new ambassador to Ankara said yesterday.
Last year the two countries came close to reaching a final agreement for the joint construction of a nuclear power plant in the Black Sea city of Sinop but in November 2010 failed to finalize a deal.
Japan took over after South Korea and launched contract talks with Turkey, but the nuclear disaster in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant delayed progress on the Japanese-Turkish deal. Analysts now speculate that the Japanese effort is faltering.
“We always have an interest in Turkey... If the Turkish side is willing, we are waiting for Turkish proposals reflecting the change in the situation,” South Korean Ambassador Lee Sangkyu told a small group of reporters. “We are willing to restart talks, but the decision for that belongs to Turkish officials.”
The planned northern Turkish nuclear power plant is believed to be worth up to $20 billion. Earlier, another contract was signed with Russia for the construction of a nuclear power plant in southern Turkey.
The close friendship between Turkey and South Korea dates back to the middle of the last century. Turkey joined the Korean War in 1950 and lost the largest percentage of soldiers, after which Ankara was admitted to NATO membership for its staunch fighting on the part of the United Nations against North Korea and China.
Bilateral trade between Turkey and South Korea increased to $5 billion last year, according to Turkish figures. The two countries also have a strong defense industry relationship.
There are plans to host the leaders of some 50 countries in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, for a nuclear security summit in late March. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to be among the attendees.
The summit, expected to be held March 26 and 27, 2012, is intended to discuss ways to counter nuclear terrorism and to minimize nuclear disasters.
“Turkey has an important role for a world without nuclear weapons. The world needs Turkey to work in that direction,” Lee said.