Turkey: Sophisticated Yet Highly Debated: Turkey’s Move To Nuclear Energy

While nuclear power has been an agenda item for Turkey since the 1970s, the first significant steps could only be taken four years ago when the Turkish government signed an inter-governmental agreement ("IGA") with the Russian Federation for the construction of a nuclear power plant ("NPP") in the Mediterranean costal region Akkuyu, Mersin to be almost immediately followed by a second NPP project in Sinop, the Black Sea coast of Turkey. Considering the increasing demand for electricity and dependence on oil and gas imports, the government believes that it is now time, more than ever, that Turkey moves for a busy nuclear energy implementation program diversifying its energy sources with the nuclear plants generating 5% of the country's electricity within the next 10 years despite the heating debates.

The steps taken for the Akkuyu NPP paved the way for the next nuclear power project. The government disclosed that it agreed on the terms of an IGA with the Japanese government in the first half of 2013 for the quarter-billion Sinop NPP which will be built by a joint venture consortium of Japanese Mitsubishi

Heavy Industries and French Areva. French electric utility company GDF Suez will be the plant operator. The Minister of Energy announced it is intended that Turkish Electricity Generation Corporation (EÜAŞ) will have a shareholding percentage of around 35 in the project company. Despite the fact that it was not the method followed for the Akkuyu NPP but was the case for other similar projects, the next step for the Sinop NPP would be to have a host government agreement between the Turkish government and the relevant project company to be established for the purposes of Sinop NPP to govern the details of implementation of the project. The Sinop NPP is expected to commence power generation in 2023 coinciding with the 100th year of the Turkish Republic. This collaboration with Japanese parties is also regarded as indicative of Turkey's recently enhanced strategic relationship with Japan: the Sinop NPP will be Japan's first overseas nuclear technology and the second major challenge in Turkey following the Marmaray tunnel, operative as of October 2013, also built by a Japanese consortium to connect Istanbul's European and Asian coasts.

The government is still maintaining its firm stance and is confident that NPPs will make a significant contribution to the Turkish economy in the upcoming decade; however, there has been an undeniable public reaction against the Akkuyu and Sinop NPPs right from their inception. The protests against both plants focus on environmental concerns, the untested reactor types to be used and the scale of a possible nuclear disaster in Turkey. The fitness of Turkey, as one of the most seismically active regions in the world, to host such sophisticated structures is also questioned by the anti-nuclear groups in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.

To trigger more controversy, the parliament made two failed attempts to exempt the NPPs from the requirement of preparing an environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report, one of the environment related key re-requisites for construction and operation. The parliament re-worded the specific exemption provision of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation twice to have the Akkuyu NPP be free of the obligation in this regard. Both attempts were, however, halted by the Council of State.

The NPP projects have also been facing political opposition mounted against the specifically engineered unique regulatory regime created through the IGAs. The opposition party challenged the law approving the ratification of the Akkuyu IGA for the Akkuyu NPP before the Constitutional Court. The essence of the claim was that the Akkuyu IGA gave leeway to circumvent national regulations such as the mandatory competitive tender process that must have been otherwise followed and to shield the whole process from judicial review. This challenge, however, was left unsupported by the Constitutional Court responding in November 2013 that an assessment of the IGA's content including the regulatory regime created thereunder would be beyond the court's authorities.

The Japanese side, on the other hand, is also busy with its own public debates on the Sinop NPP. The anti-nuclear groups are specifically concerned about the Agreement for Co-Operation in the Use of Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes between Turkey and Japan ("Agreement for Peaceful Purposes"). Subject to the Presidential act and issuance of the decree by the Council of Ministers for promulgating the law deeming the Agreement for Peaceful Purposes proper for ratification, entered into force upon its announcement in the Official Gazette, as of 20 January 2014. It is alleged that the clause in the agreement allowing Turkey to export Japan's spent fuel re-processing technologies raised questions about any potential efforts in proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Turkish government, on the other hand, emphasizes that the clause merely aims that Turkey gets Japan's on nuclear fuel reprocessing know-how and experience. These concerns are easy to refute considering that Turkey is already a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, a landmark international treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.

The Turkish Atomic Energy Authority ("TAEK") does not remain indifferent to the safety concerns and continues to focus on the regulatory aspects of nuclear power to maintain a well-structured national legal framework. Accordingly, TAEK issued the Regulation on Radioactive Waste Management (Radyoaktif Atık Yönetimi Yönetmeliği) in 2013, the Regulation on Physical Protection of Nuclear Facilities and Nuclear Substances (Nükleer Tesislerin Ve Nükleer Maddelerin Fiziksel Korunması Yönetmeliği) in 2012 and the Regulation on Protection of Subcontractor Employees from Ionizing Radiation (Kontrollü Alanlarda Çalışan Harici Görevlilerin İyonlaştırıcı Radyasyondan Kaynaklanabilecek Risklere Karşı Korunmasına Dair Yönetmelik) in 2011.

The Turkish Ministry of Energy also displays efforts in establishing a national regime for liability as one of the mostly debated nuclear power issues. While the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy (the "Paris Convention") of 1960 has the force of law in Turkey, it leaves room for its contracting states to adopt supplementary domestic legislation in relation third party nuclear liability issues. A draft law on liabilities in the field of nuclear energy (the "Draft Nuclear Liability Law") has been prepared by the Ministry of Energy and submitted to the council of ministers. Going one step beyond the Paris Convention, the Draft Nuclear Liability Law sets an upper limit to NPP operators' and nuclear fuel carriers' third party liability arising a nuclear incident. Moreover, draft proposal foresees the establishment of a nuclear damage determination commission to determine the amount of damage where the nuclear damage is above the liability upper limit of nuclear facility operators and nuclear fuel carriers. The raft Nuclear Liability Law also sets forth that both operators and carriers must maintain insurance in relation to their activities and that failure to comply with this requirement may result in administrative fines or revocation of operation licences. The Draft Nuclear Liability Law grants the monitoring authority to the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.

While the Prime Minister Erdoğan admits that no project could be 100% safe and the nuclear opponents hope that Japan had lessons to learn from its recent experience, Turkey tries its best to secure a well-developed national regime to accommodate this sophisticated alternative source of energy.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions