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Turkey’s nuclear power plant could prove irresistible to terrorists

Turkey’s nuclear power plant could prove irresistible to terrorists

A tempting target — Beyond Nuclear International

 A Tempting target https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3231822640  Beyond Nuclear International

Accurate missiles and drones could knock down critical electrical supply lines to Turkey’s nuclear reactor and destroy its emergency generators, nuclear control rooms, reactor containment buildings, and spent reactor fuel buildings.

By Henry Sokolski and John Spacapan

Although it got little attention from the U.S. media, an explosion late last month at a Turkish nuclear power plant construction site raised eyebrows in Turkey. It should raise eyebrows in America, too. Donald Trump pushed nuclear exports to the region when he was president. His replacement, Joe Biden, should not. The recent Turkish explosion clarifies why: nuclear plants in unstable regions are tempting targets that could explode, and not by accident.

The blast injured at least two people and caused serious damage to homes in the area. The Russian-Turkish nuclear construction firm, Akkuyu Nuclear Inc., claims the explosion took place when a subcontractor carried out “planned drilling and blasting.” So far, Ankara has kept mum on the story.

Angry local officials and opposition party leaders, though, aren’t buying the construction firm’s account. A member of the leading political opposition, the Republican People’s Party, said locals are losing sleep “thinking about the possibility of more blasts that might happen in the future when the nuclear power plant starts to function.” Meanwhile, the local governor has ordered a special police team to investigate the incident and to “hold those responsible to account.” 

Whether or not the explosion was planned, the Republican People’s Party leaders, Turkish citizens, and local Akkuyu politicians worry about reactor accidents. The Akkuyu plant sits on a major plate tectonic fault line. Besides natural accidents, they should worry about another threat—terrorist and proxy missile and drone attacks. Certainly, if government officials ignore local opposition to the nuclear project, then they will have to worry that the PKK (a Kurdish terrorist group that seeks an autonomous state in southeastern Turkey) might hold the Turkish government hostage by threatening to strike the plant.

Nearby, last July, the Azerbaijani defense ministry’s spokesman did precisely that, publicly threatening to use precise Azeri missiles to strike Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power plant. It was shortly after this threat was made that Russian president Vladimir Putin called Turkish president Recep Erdogan to restrain Azerbaijan’s military. The Iranians and their proxies also have toyed with attacking reactors. Hezbollah, armed with Iranian-made rockets, has threatened to strike Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor.

Another Iranian proxy, the al-Houthi group in Yemen, claimed that they fired a missileat the UAE’s Barakah nuclear power plant, which it failed to hit. They claim they intend to try again. 

Finally, if Iran chose to give similar missiles to militias such as the Syrian National Defense Forces, who are supportive of the Assad regime in Syria (a bitter enemy of Turkey), similar threats might be made against Akkuyu.

Then, there is the PKK, which has attacked Turkish soldiers and military bases with sophisticated explosive drones. In one attack, the PKK blew up a Turkish ammunition dump, killing seven Turkish soldiers and wounding dozens more.  Security analysts contend the PKK’s newer drones can travel sixty miles at fast enough speeds to outwit Turkish military jamming technology. They are now reportedly designing a new generation. Such drones have to be considered a future threat against Turkey’s nuclear plant.

March 15, 2021 - Posted by | safety, Turkey

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