“There is probably no institution in the world that should be kept as far away from a nuclear power plant as the Turkish Atomic Energy Institution.”
— Nuclear regulator charged with supervising nuclear material
A little less than a week ago, I suggested that bombing Libya set a bad precedent for America’s broader nuclear non-proliferation effort.
The more important point that I neglected to add, was that by attacking a country that had forsworn nuclear arms, the United States inadvertently encouraged more countries to seek them. Furthermore, American action in Libya suggests that if the United States makes a commitment today, there is no guarantee that it will keep its commitment to that country tomorrow.
Recent guarantees that America made to its Middle Eastern allies to extend a nuclear umbrella against a future nuclear-armed Iran now ring hollow. The fear is that regional powers like Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia will develop their own nuclear weapons to hedge against the Iranian threat. Until recently, the United States had successfully discouraged this potential proliferation spiral.
But not any longer.
The Turks have now announced that construction on their first nuclear reactor will begin imminently in one of the most active earthquake regions in the world — more than 90 percent of its territory experiences seismic activity.
Now I am all for nuclear power, but the way the Turks are viewing it makes me afraid, very afraid.
Turkey had a level 3 rated incident on the International and Radialogical Event scale as early as 1999 (when they had no reactor), because a container of radioactive Cobalt-60 was found in an Istanbul junkyard. During the Chernobyl meltdown, Turkey’s then-trade minister encouraged Turks to drink tea from the contaminated harvest.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are sure to follow…