Turkish energy minister dismisses ‘uranium enrichment’ claims

Turkish energy minister dismisses ‘uranium enrichment’ claims

ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Turkish energy minister dismisses ‘uranium enrichment’ claims

AA Photo

Turkey’s energy minister has highlighted the timing of media reports alleging that the country is planning to engage in uranium enrichment, claiming the country has no such program.

Responding to questions about reports saying Ankara demanded clauses in a nuclear deal inked with Tokyo that would allow it to engage in uranium enrichment and plutonium extraction, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said Turkey had signed such deals with other countries but that they were not emphasized.

“Turkey has signed many agreements as such with countries like Canada, France, Russia, Argentina and the United States, but we haven’t faced any crisis or risks so far,” he said Jan. 15 in an address to ambassadors in Ankara, claiming that the timing of such reports was related to the political environment.

“There are such deals in all countries, subject to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], but they succeeded in creating a crisis out of this,” he said.

A Japanese daily that quoted a Japanese Foreign Ministry official had reported Jan. 8 that a clause, which was added in the nuclear agreement signed by the two nations upon Turkey’s demand, had prompted concerns over a possible proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Yıldız said the demand for uranium enrichment allowance was only aimed at learning about the nuclear fuel production process.

The minister insisted that the reports were targeting Turkey’s international image amid a graft scandal that has shaken the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

“We are passing through a political stress test,” he said.

The political tumult that began with the launch of a corruption operation into a number of high-ranking officials and businessmen has developed into a war among the judiciary, police and the ruling party, prompting the government to begin purging hundreds of civil servants suspected of supporting the Gülen movement, which is believed to be behind the probe.

In the latest of a number rifts, Turkish anti-terror police on Jan. 14 detained scores of people in a nationwide operation against al-Qaeda that targeted an Islamic charity known to be linked to the government.

“They are trying to make Turkey look like an al-Qaeda-linked country,” Yıldız said.