Erdoğan, Putin remotely inaugurate Akkuyu nuclear reactor construction

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday remotely inaugurated the construction of a third nuclear reactor at the Akkuyu power plant in southern Turkey, Euronews Turkish reported.

 Erdoğan called the launch a “symbol of Turkish-Russian cooperation,” signalling Turkey’s entrance into the ”league of nuclear energy countries,” as the the pair vowed to continue their close cooperation.

Akkuyu is the first nuclear power plant to be built in Turkey. The project is being implemented by JSC Akkuyu Nuclear, a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, based on the intergovernmental agreement signed by Russia and Turkey in May 2010.

Officials broke ground on the Akkuyu power plant in 2018 and the station is due to come online in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey.

Erdoğan on Wednesday stressed nuclear power as a “strategic step” for energy security that held a significant place in terms of Turkey’s energy policy.

“We will join the league of countries with nuclear energy in the 100th year of our republic,’’ the Turkish president said. 

The project has drawn controversy since it was first announced in 2010, including among pundits and environmental groups, who maintain it will increaseTurkey’s energy reliance on Russia and its construction in an earthquake prone area.