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Turkey says not dependent on Russia for nuclear plant




Turkey on Wednesday insisted it was not dependent on Russia to build its first nuclear power plant amid uncertainty over the $20 billion project because of the crisis in relations between Ankara and Moscow.

Russia’s state atomic agency Rosatom began constructing the plant in Akkuyu in the southern Mersin province on the shores of the Mediterranean in April.

But the Kremlin has refused to emphatically commit to the project’s future after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border on November 24, prompting Moscow to impose selected economic sanctions on Ankara.

“We need to clearly say that just as we are not dependent on one door for trade, Turkey is not a prisoner of one country’s technology regarding its nuclear plants,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told the state-run Anatolia news agency.

“We know that there are many countries, many companies that are ready to respond to Turkey’s demands.”

Akkuyu is the first of three nuclear power plants Turkey currently plans to build to reduce its dependence on importing energy from oil and gas exporters like Russia and Iran.

A second plant is due to be built by a French-Japanese consortium in the Black Sea city of Sinop while a third plant is also envisaged in Igneada also on the Black Sea.

“I don’t believe that the Russians would easily relinquish Akkuyu,” said Kurtulmus.

Turkey, which imports over half its natural gas needs from Russia, has sought to emphasise it can cope with any retaliatory action from Moscow in the crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that Ankara could find alternatives to Russian oil and gas although he emphasised there was “no sign” so far that Moscow could cut off supplies.

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