Sino-Turk plan for East Thrace N-plant

China and Turkey closing in on deal expected to cause fresh tension in relations with the US

Sino-Turk plan for East Thrace N-plant

China and Turkey are reportedly nearing an agreement to build a nuclear power plant in the Eastern Thrace region of Kirklareli, according to Turkish media reports, citing Turkish Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar, in a development which is expected to spark new tensions with the US.

What’s more, its relations with the West could be further complicated as Turkey’s row with the European Parliament rages on after the body’s report, which among other things says that unless the Turkish government drastically changes its course, the EU accession process cannot continue.

“We have reached a very crucial point in our talks with China, we need to finalize them in the next few months,” Bayraktar said on Friday in remarks to reporters.

“I don’t think we have big differences. We can soon conclude an agreement with China on the nuclear power program,” he added.

Top officials of the Chinese National Energy Administration and the Chinese State Power Investment Corporation were in Eastern Thrace recently to inspect the region, reports from Turkey said.

However, the deal would test US-Turkish relations further after the news on Friday that five Turkish companies and a Turkish national were fined on suspicion of aiding Russia in evading sanctions.

This has only placed more pressure on ties with Washington, given that the decision regarding Ankara’s desire to purchase F-16 fighter jets is still pending as the Biden administration has made the final approval contingent on Sweden’s NATO membership which had been blocked by Ankara.

Nonetheless, according to the Hurriyet newspaper, Ankara’s talks with China to build the country’s third nuclear power plant in Eastern Thrace have made progress, while talks are ongoing with Russia on another nuclear power plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop. Russia is already building the country’s first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, in the southern province of Mersin.

The energy minister said Turkey could in future produce 20 GW from its three nuclear power plants and another five from small reactors. Akkuyu is already a major contributor to the Turkish economy and energy sector. A portion of 47% of the $4.3 billion project is covered by domestic funds, and thousands of Turks are employed at the plant, as they make up 80% of its work force.

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