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Cablegate: Istanbul Technical University Restarts Nuclear

VZCZCXRO4754
PP RUEHDA
DE RUEHIT #0150 0860853
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 260853Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA PRIORITY 2348
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7994
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000150

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG TU
SUBJECT: ISTANBUL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY RESTARTS NUCLEAR
RESEARCH REACTOR

REF: A. A. 07 ANKARA 2755
B. B. ISTANBUL 60

1. (U) At a ceremony attended by Turkish Energy Minister
Guler, the Istanbul Technical University (ITU) restarted its
research reactor in a move to kick start Turkey,s drive to
develop nuclear energy. The 250 kw TRIGA Mark II reactor
resumed operations on March 21 after being closed since 2002
for earthquake retrofitting. The reactor is maintained by
the Energy Institute at ITU, who will use it for educational
and research proposes. This development coincided with
Turkey,s plan to develop commercial nuclear energy. Three
days after this ceremony, Guler formally announced tenders
for Turkey,s first nuclear power plant (Ankara septel).

2. (U) The resumption of the research reactor will provide
needed training for indigenous workers for a nascent nuclear
energy program. Turkey,s past sporadic attempts to develop
nuclear energy have resulted in only a handful of Turkish
nuclear physicists. Turkey will be facing a daunting task in
filling the demand for qualified engineers especially since
the Chamber of Accounts struck out of the nuclear law (reftel
a) a provision allowing foreign experts and engineers be used
to operate the plant (Ankara septel). At a Nuclear Energy
Conference held earlier this year (reftel b), Dr. Necmi
Dayday, security inspector for the IAEA and professor at
Galatasaray University stated that ITU receives annually only
about five applicants for the nuclear physics graduate
program, compared to over 100 applicants 20 years ago. The
Nuclear Energy Institute also was changed to become simply
the Energy Institute in 2003, with nuclear research becoming
only a branch of this organization.

3. (SBU) The Reactor Director, Dr. Ahmet Bayulken, called for
Turkey to use indigenous nuclear fuels to avoid depending on
foreign sources. This echoes the sentiments of many Turkish
speakers at the January Nuclear Energy conference (refetl a)
who stressed that Turkey should become more self reliant to
boost its energy security. Turkey could potentially tap
into its Thorium reserves, rather than obtaining enriched
uranium. COMMENT: Avoiding using enriched uranium will
greatly influence the reactor choice that Turkey will
develop. Reactors that use natural nuclear fuel, such as the
Canadian CANDU reactor, will likely become a more attractive
choice. In addition, the current law has a 60 percent
domestic content prevision and it requires bidders to submit
plans for domestic fuel production, while allowing either
natural fuel or enriched fuel designs to complete (Ankara
septel). END COMMENT.


WIENER

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