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Tuesday, September 6, 2011     GET REAL

U.S. worried over Turkey's 'dependency'
on Russian energy sector

LONDON — The United States has been quietly worrying over Russian nuclear ties with Turkey.


The State Department has been concerned over Turkey's agreement with Russia for the construction of Ankara's first nuclear energy reactor. A U.S. embassy in Moscow cable dating from 2009 expressed worry that Turkey, a key member of NATO, would become completely dependent on Russia's energy.

"Practically all of Turkey's natural gas comes from Russia and this arrangement would deepen Turkey's dependency on the Russian energy sector, which some in Turkey oppose," then-U.S. ambassador John Beyrle said.

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The April 3, 2009 cable, released by WikiLeaks, warned that Russia would own Turkey's first nuclear energy facility, and after 15 years would set the price of electricity. Beyrle said the prime contractor, Atomstroyexport, would be unable to complete the Turkish reactor as well as other foreign projects, Middle East Newsline reported.

In January 2010, Turkey and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding to build the nuclear plant in the eastern Mediterranean town of Akuyu in Mersin province. The 1,200 kilowatt nuclear reactor was meant to be established on a build-own-operate model.

"Rosatom is diligently pursuing construction contracts for 11 new nuclear reactors in India, Iran, Bulgaria and Ukraine and it is in active discussions on another six reactors — two in China and a build-own-operate plant with four reactors in Turkey," the State Department cable said. "The insufficient machine-building infrastructure and a paucity of trained specialists make it unlikely that the company will be able to realize all of these plans soon."

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