Fact Sheet

Turkey Nuclear Facilities

Turkey Nuclear Facilities

Want to dive deeper?

Visit the Education Center

Turkey has the necessary research institutes, technical knowledge, and regulatory bodies to form the basis for a successful civilian nuclear power program. However, it lacks nuclear power reactors and commercial-scale fuel cycle capabilities, meaning that foreign suppliers will be key to Ankara's success in launching a nuclear power program.

Existing Nuclear Infrastructure and Regulatory Framework

The Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) is the government agency responsible for nearly all of Turkey's nuclear facilities, with the exception of the MTA Technology Lab. TAEK oversees a variety of research centers, primarily based in Istanbul and Ankara. The largest and most significant of these centers is the Çekmece Nuclear Research and Training Centre (ÇNAEM). [1] In addition to the government operated centers, there are a few institutions of higher learning where research into peaceful uses of nuclear energy occurs.

Turkey operates two research reactors, the 250KWt ITU-TRR and the 5MWt TR-2. The primary function of these reactors is the production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial applications. A dedicated waste storage facility at ÇNAEM processes all spent fuel produced by the two reactors. The facility does not have reprocessing capabilities. The CRNC Fuel Pilot Plant located at ÇNAEM performs small-scale milling, conversion, and fuel fabrication operations. Though Turkey has known uranium and thorium reserves, mining of both these minerals is limited. [2]

Nuclear Power Plans

Turkey has tried and failed to launch a nuclear power program on at least three occasions since 1968. [3] In every instance, financial limitations and domestic or international political constraints prevented success. [4] However, the Turkish government announced plans in 2006 to produce 5,000MW of nuclear energy by 2015. [5] As of 2011, limited progress had been made in realizing this goal, but the AKP government remained strongly committed to its nuclear power plans. After a troubled tender process in 2008, the government began assessing the sole bid for construction of the first nuclear plant at Akkuyu from the Russian-led consortium Atomstroyexport-Inter Rao-Park Teknik. [6] While Turkey's highest administrative court ultimately disapproved the conditions of the tender, the AKP-led government brokered a replacement state-to-state deal with Russia in May 2010 under which a Russian firm will build the Akkuyu plant. [7]

Turkey is currently looking for a foreign partner to construct a second nuclear power plant at Sinop. In January 2011, Energy Ministry Undersecretary Metin Kilci asserted, "We want a minimum 20 reactors in operation by 2030. This may not be our formalized plan, but it is our target." [8] While Prime Minister Erdogan has indicated that Turkey will move ahead as planned with nuclear power plant construction, the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant has created fierce domestic debate concerning whether Turkey should abandon its nuclear power plans. [9]

[1] "Regulatory and Institutional Framework for Nuclear Activities: Turkey," Nuclear Legislation in OECD Countries, Nuclear Energy Agency, 2008, www.nea.fr.
[2] "Turkey: Power-Balance Concerns," in Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 63.
[3] "Turkey: Power-Balance Concerns," in Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 63.
[4] Mustafa Kibaroglu, "Turkey's Quest for Peaceful Nuclear Power," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1997, pp. 33-44.
[5] "Turkey: Power-Balance Concerns," in Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 63.
[6] Emrullah Uslu, "Turkish Government May Approve Construction of a Nuclear Power Plant in April," Eurasia Daily Monitor 6, no. 53, The Jamestown Foundation, 19 March 2009, www.jamestown.org.
[7] "UPDATE 1-Turkey wants nuclear project firms set up this month," Reuters Africa, 21 September 2010, http://af.reuters.com.
[8] "Turkey Targets 20 Nuclear Reactors by 2030-official," Reuters, 31 January 2011.
[9] Erisa Dautaj Şenerdem, "Turkish Experts Split in Atomic Debate," Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review, 19 March 2011, www.hurriyetdailynews.com.

Stay Informed

Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on nuclear and biological threats.

Sign Up


Radioisotope: An unstable isotope of an element that decays or disintegrates spontaneously, emitting energy (radiation). Approximately 5,000 natural and artificial radioisotopes have been identified. Some radioisotopes, such as Molybdenum-99, are used for medical applications, such as diagnostics. These isotopes are created by the irradiation of targets in research reactors.
Spent nuclear fuel
Spent nuclear fuel: Irradiated nuclear fuel. Once irradiated, nuclear fuel is highly radioactive and extremely physically hot, necessitating special remote handling. Fuel is considered “self protecting” if it is sufficiently radioactive that those who might seek to divert it would not be able to handle it directly without suffering acute radiation exposure.
Reprocessing: The chemical treatment of spent nuclear fuel to separate the remaining usable plutonium and uranium for re-fabrication into fuel, or alternatively, to extract the plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.
Uranium is a metal with the atomic number 92. See entries for enriched uranium, low enriched uranium, and highly enriched uranium.


My Resources