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Japan and Turkey: Nuclear Proliferators?

Turkey's draft atomic cooperation agreement with Japan would allow Ankara to use sensitive technologies that have potential nuclear-weapon applications.

The bilateral accord would permit the export of Japanese nuclear technology to Turkey, which has contracted with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to build four atomic reactors in the city of Sinop. The deal includes a clause that permits Ankara to extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel and to enrich uranium -- practices that could be used to produce either reactor fuel or bomb-grade material, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the nuclear accord when he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Tuesday. The two men agreed to work to expedite the process for approving the $22 billion reactor-construction project, the Associated Press reported.

The Japanese parliament likely will debate passage of the nuclear cooperation agreement when it reconvenes later this month, according to Asahi Shimbun.

An unidentified high-ranking Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Ankara sought the enrichment-and-reprocessing provision.

However, some oppose Turkey's access to these sensitive processes, contending it runs counter to Japan's longstanding support of nuclear nonproliferation.

"There is a risk that [the government] accepts unreasonable demands in relation to projects sponsored by a prime minister," onetime industry ministry official Shigeaki Koga said.

A number of Japanese lawmakers also object to the provision. The international relations wing of Abe's governing Liberal Democratic Party did not give its blessing for Turkish enrichment or reprocessing.

Previous atomic-cooperation deals that Japan struck with Jordan, Russia, South Korea and Vietnam all included limits on reprocessing and enrichment. A trade accord with the United Arab Emirates, which has yet to win parliamentary approval, also would not permit domestic fuel-making.

(Original article)

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