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Japan’s nuclear agreement with Turkey contradicts Japan’s policy on nuclear weapons proliferation

Buy-Japan's-nukes-2Japan’s energy pact with Turkey raises nuclear weapons concerns  Asahi Shimbun, This article was compiled from reports by Sachiko Miwa in Tokyo and Kazuyuki Kanai in Istanbul., 7 Jan 14, A pact required for Japan’s first nuclear plant export after the Fukushima disaster faces opposition over concerns about a possible proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Debate over the issue is expected when the government seeks Diet approval for the nuclear energy agreement with Turkey during a session that convenes this month. Japan and Turkey agreed to conclude the nuclear energy pact, a precondition for exporting nuclear technology, in May. It requires the recipient country to use technology, as well as equipment and materials, only for peaceful purposes.

However, the pact includes a provision allowing Turkey to enrich uranium and extract plutonium, a potential material for nuclear weapons, from spent fuel if the two countries agree in writing. A senior Foreign Ministry official said the clause was added at the request of Turkey.

The agreement would also pave the way for exporting Japan’s enrichment and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing technologies if revisions are made.

The provision has sparked criticism that it contradicts Japan’s stance against nuclear weapons.

“There is a risk that (the government) accepts unreasonable demands in relation to projects sponsored by a prime minister,” Shigeaki Koga, a former industry ministry bureaucrat, said.

A consortium that includes Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. won a contract to build four nuclear reactors in the Black Sea city of Sinop with strong backing from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is pushing nuclear plant exports as part of his growth strategy.

Abe and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met in Tokyo on Jan. 7. The two leaders discussed the project and overall atomic energy cooperation when Abe visited Turkey in May and October.

The Sinop project will be Japan’s first nuclear plant export after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami…….

Although the opposition Democratic Party of Japan promoted nuclear plant exports when it was in power, some of its lawmakers, including those from areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident, are against the pact.

The Japan Restoration Party, another opposition party, has decided to oppose the agreement.

Even the foreign affairs division of Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party withheld its approval in October because some members said the provision on uranium enrichment and plutonium extraction will run counter to nuclear nonproliferation.

The LDP division gave its approval only after Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida offered reassurances in the Diet that Japan will not allow spent fuel reprocessing in Turkey……….


January 9, 2014 - Posted by | Japan, politics international

1 Comment »

  1. This message and the following letter is sent from Turkey by NKP.

    NKP is a broad and all-embracing alliance of NGO’s and activists against nuclear power in Turkey. It represents the largest joint effort in the environmentalist movement in the country.

    Attached letter has been written for DIET members, to enable them to discover the backdrop of

    “Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Turkey for Co-operation in the Use of Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes “

    signed by Mr. Abe and Mr. Erdogan in Istanbul.

    We – the citizens-firmly believe this agreement must be scrapped when it is brought to the attention of the Japanese Parliament for ratification.

    We also believe, as the leaders of a country who are still in battle against the Fukushima disaster, Japanese MP’s will act sincerely and reject ratifiying this agreement.

    It is crucial that our motives for opposing this agreement are well understood by you,hopefully this letter conveys our message well .



    January 17, 2014

    In May 2013, Turkey and Japan signed an agreement to construct a nuclear power plant in Sinop on Turkey’s western Black Sea coast. Mitsubushi Heavy Industries and the French Areva are supposed to be working on this project jointly. In 2010, Turkey signed a similar agreement with Russia to build the country’s first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu. Questionable “build-own-operate” model of Russia is unusual in nuclear industry and leaves many uncomfortable questions in mind about safety.

    As Turkey moves toward these serious, potentially hazardous projects in a hurry, it fails to factor in the social, geological and environmental implications and seem unaware of potential lethal risks for millions of people living in the region as well as the vulnerable ecological communities in case something goes wrong just as it did in Fukushima recently and Chernobyl earlier. Turkey’s active fault lines in its political and economic structure, coupled with its inefficiencies in the areas of technology, regulations, infrastructure and shortage of qualified personnel pose a big threat to the efficient and safe execution of any such project. Turkey, just like Japan is in a seismically very active geography yet unlike Japan, she is quite unprepared for the risks of major earthquakes. Turkish safety culture is very different from Japan’s and risk management concepts are also perceived differently. This alone massively amplifies the risks of operating nuclear power plants in Turkey.

    Our letter is calling the MPs representing Japanese people to scrap the intergovernmental nuclear agreement with Turkey that will soon be brought to the attention of DIET members for deliberation. The reasons behind this sincere call are detailed in the following paragraphs.

    Turkey is deviating from practices of a modern democracy, as it becomes more and more authoritarian under the current government; people’s will on vital issues is dismissed. Evading ecologically sustainable energy options, the government has imposed obscure nuclear plans on the nation without any due debates either within its party program or in the parliament. The method of promoting these nuclear agreements are very much in line with the rest of the un-democratic practices of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been in power for a decade.
    Majority of Turkish people are against nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons. “Global Citizen Reaction to the Fukushima Nuclear Plant Disaster”, a survey conducted by IPSOS in April 2011 documents the fact that 80% of Turks are against acquiring nuclear energy. Yet, people and NGOs cannot find outlets for voicing their true concerns or objections on neither nuclear nor other similarly vital issue; democratic channels through which the citizens may promote change are blocked by the AKP regime. For the second consecutive year in 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists has announced Turkey as the world’s leading jailer of journalists, followed closely by Iran and China.

    As freedom of the press, freedom of expression and assembly are gradually obstructed in Turkey checks and balances expected of a functional democracy are deemed unnecessary by the party elite. The one party rule has actually become a “one man rule”. The Turkish PM recently announced that the democratic norm of ‘separation of powers’ is an obstacle for his agenda. The AKP uses its majority in the parliament to shape Turkey’s social and physical structure singlehandedly. Decisions on the country’s strategic issues, like defense or energy production are being made without any counseling from experts and scientists. Such exclusionary decision making has been effective in hastily wrapping up the Turkish nuclear plans and projects. Any regards for the citizen’s contrary will is totally out of question; those who publicly go against government’s policies are described as “traitors” by the officials and are treated accordingly by the state forces. Use of unnecessary and excessive force against peaceful demonstrations by the state police has become habitual. During a month of unrest in June, the number of “Gezi protestors” who were injured has risen to eight thousand some of the seriously injured are disabled for a lifetime, while an innocent teenager is still in coma. Twelve citizens survived the police assault but lost their eyes, while eleven lost their lives. Over three thousand arrests were made. These are some of the impressive facts and figures of the Turkish democracy.
    Last year, in the ranks of corruption perceptions index of Transparency International, Turkey had taken the 53rd row among the 177 countries and territories. But this ranking was done months before the Turkish ministers’ corruption and bribery scandals filled the media news rooms. Turkish Public is following the shocking developments of a graft probe since 17th of December. This investigation process is not expected to bear any result though, as it is not executed to enable Turkey to attain a transparent and accountable government fit for running a modern and strong democracy. Rather it is the result of a deep rift and resentment between the de facto coalition groups inside the AKP, rivaling to gain more power. While the recent corruption probe continues to inflict irreparable damage on ruling AKP and Mr. Erdogan’s cabinet is in complete disarray, he has set off to Japan for several days of contacts on joint strategic issues and the nuclear agreement. Turkish media has not been provided objective details of these official meetings. Mr. Erdogan has obstructed Turkish peoples’ right to access unbiased information by excluding reporters from media groups, which are critical of his government. It must be noted that, the Turkish Japanese nuclear agreement which has been signed by the Erdogan government in May, has the signatures of four ministers that have had to leave their positions due to corruption charges in December.
    If the Turkish PM’s endeavors are taken seriously by his Japanese counterparts, eliminating the future nuclear risks on earthquake prone Turkish soil will be the task of not just the immediate generations but countless innocent generations to come and Japan will share the blame. Turkish nuclear prospects are over ambitious for a state that lacks the financial, institutional, human and technological resources to operate and take control of these very different reactors independently. Erdogan governments signed successive tens of billions of dollar deals for two very different nuclear reactor technologies with Russia and Japan, separately. Rosatom in Akkuyu and Atmea in Sinop will both be building first-of- their -kind reactor designs. As a nation, which goes nuclear with the help of two very different foreign contractors and operators, Turkey provides the nuclear industry with a very unique and odd example.
    Together with the other mega projects of the regime, these costly nuclear investments are threatening to carry the country’s current account deficit already at record heights, to astronomical levels. Eying the coming elections and avoiding any criticism on huge expenditures, 2012 and 2013 government budgets have been passed by AKP majority vote, without being subject to conventional parliamentary audits. Turkish public is not duly advised of the real economic cost of hosting and operating these nuclear plants.
    NGOs, unions, civil rights and national environment institutions and local people threatened by the potential nuclear plants, have been at alert for years. There is a very strong environmentalist movement in Turkey. In order to defend their rights for living in a clean environment numerous petition campaigns, mass protest rallies have been organized. NGO’s have sued government’s initial nuclear bill and have won their case. High Court has declared the original nuclear legislation, unconstitutional. But the government did not withdraw plans. In order to bypass future court rulings, Erdogan and his ministers formulated a solution; the same content, which is definitely against the interests of the Turkish people, were fit into an international agreement format. This way, the nuclear processes are separated from the realm and ruling of the Turkish national courts of justice. Once the parliamentary approval stage is complete an agreement becomes an absolute legislation. The AKP majority vote is effectively used to pass and ratify an agreement in the parliament. Sadly, the Japanese agreement has been swiftly approved this way. At the last minutes of the parliamentary session on January 9th, without a single sentence of discussion, it was voted and approved. This is probably unseen and unheard of in the history of the nuclear industry.
    Other than political landscape, the technological infrastructure of Turkey is also unfit for acquiring nuclear power. The projects’ prospects for success are significantly undercut by Turkey’s inadequate regulatory authority, which lacks an operating history paradigm. To move forward, these projects need construction and operating licenses from the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK). The authority will also be responsible for monitoring and verifying long-term regulatory compliance of the operational plants. The fact that both Russia’s Rosatom and ATMEA propose to build reactor designs never tried before, for which there is little available licensing guidance, further complicates the situation. In fact Rosatom has initiated the construction process in Akkuyu by a never-tried-before scheme which TAEK shut eyes to. The Russian nuclear firm hurriedly started leveling the forest at the site completely illegally, without an environmental impact evaluation approval. When questioned on legality, the Russian firm claimed that they have a local “stone quarry license” to dig the ground, issued by the governor of Mersin.
    TAEK is notorious among citizens for its inefficiency to act for saving public health during the Chernobyl disaster. Instead of protecting the public by providing vital information, the agency had darkened and veiled the truth about the radiation threat in 1986. And still continues to do so. TAEK has not produced a single map of Turkey’s radiation hot spots caused by Chernobyl blast plume.
    TAEK lacks the independence and expertise to perform effectively in IAEA standards. It is politically subordinate to the prime minister’s office and, in light of dual regulation and promotion responsibilities, faces conflicting interests. Lately, the authority has hushed a scandal with international dimensions which has been revealed in 2007 totally by chance. Spent reactor rods that were smuggled through the borders seem to have found their way for recycling in a scrap lead factory in Gaziemir- a district near the airport of Izmir- Turkey’s third largest city. TAEK refused taking responsibility and sufficed by surrounding the factory compounds by barbed wire. Locals living alongside the factory are left to their fate, unprotected from radiation exposure.
    Aside from these material arguments, it is crucial to draw attention to a new peril emerging with this agreement: the pact is steering Turkey towards dangerous and unchartered waters of international conflict. Turks have been saved from the destruction of the Second World War and at the post war era, established peaceful relations with their neighbors. A motto coined by the founding father of the republic, “Peace at home, Peace in the World” has been at the core of the Turkish foreign policies for decades. But it has to be acknowledged that lately Turkish government’s active foreign policy has been totally revised; Turkey’s new outlook of the world does not bear the traditional peace motto at its core. AKP’s Syria policy is a definite reflection of this change of affairs. “Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Turkey for Co-operation in the Use of Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes” contrary to its heading, provides clauses for Turkey to become a weapons grade plutonium provider for third parties beyond its borders in the Middle East.
    Radiation knows no borders, though. As the world is still quite away from grasping the accurate extent of the damage of the past Chernobyl and recent Fukushima disasters, both Russia and Japan are to be ethically questioned for marketing nuclear plants and materials. Turkey is a nation that has already been the silent victim of the 1986 nuclear disaster and radiation related cancer epidemics is taking its toll among the young population of the country.
    It should be finally emphasized once again that this government has lost its legitimacy. The nuclear agreements between Japan and Russia should be suspended. The current politicians’ interests definitely diverge from the genuine interests of the people. Turkish people cannot carry the burden of long term nuclear deals signed by politicians who are faced with numerous corruption charges. Innocent future generations must be saved from the effects of such a tragic mandate. If the politicians fail, eventually, Turkish people themselves will be able to scrap these deals following presumed future government change in the coming the elections.
    We hope to convey the real situation in Turkey to the Japanese decision makers and politicians. Japanese investors also should beware that the economic relations they are establishing during this period with Turkey is not on very stable grounds.
    We hope that the Japanese Parliament will take these facts into consideration while discussing the ratification of the nuclear agreement with Turkey.
    We hope that, as the leaders of their country who are still in battle against the Fukushima disaster, Japanese MP’s will act sincerely and reject this agreement.
    We hope that by rejecting the exports of the nuclear industry to other countries, Japanese politicians will act wisely, avoid being judged in historical perspective as opportunist politicians who showed no respect to the peoples’ right to live a healthy and prosperous life.
    Let us join hands in the vast universe of our beautiful earth and make the dream of democracy and peace, a reality.

    Nükleer Karşıtı Platform – Turkish Antinuclear Alliance

    Comment by nükleer karsiti platform | January 20, 2014 | Reply

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