The ceremony was also attended by Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi, Director General of the Rosatom Nuclear Energy State Corporation Alexei Likhachyov, and Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkiye Fatih Donmez.
Rosatom is building the nuclear power plant under a 2010 intergovernmental agreement. The plans include four generating units with a total capacity of 4,800 megawatts.
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Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi: Distinguished presidents, distinguished minister, distinguished CEO of Rosatom, dear friends,
Occasions like this come few and far between. As it was rightly said, Turkiye enters today a new phase in its economic development, a new phase in which the name of the country figures among those who have embraced the promise of atoms of peace, the promise of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It has been said many times that the world faces a number of challenges. One of those, of course, is economic development, moving forward, having the energy to feed our economies and bring welfare to our people, while doing it in a way that is not harmful for the environment at a time of global warming and climate change.
Nuclear energy is a clean source of energy. The four formidable units that I have visited today will bring no less than 10 percent of clean energy for the country.What a feature for this country in such a short period of time. Of course, nuclear energy is a complex matter that brings a lot of good and also responsibility. This is why the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been associated with this project from the very beginning, by providing technical assistance, by helping to forge the Turkish workforce that, along with its Russian partners, is going to be manning this facility, by marking sure that the Turkish independent regulator will have all the elements to apply the safety and security standards that are required.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Nuclear must always be a force of good. From nuclear power plants, only good things should come. And this is why, on this celebratory occasion, I must say that we need international support; we need everybody’s support to make sure that no nuclear accidents will emanate from the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. We need your support so that every time we talk about nuclear energy, we will do it in the spirit we are doing it today, here, at Akkuyu: a spirit of hope, a spirit of success.
This republic is celebrating 100 years this year, and in 100 years, Akkuyu will still be producing clean nuclear energy for the country. You can count on the IAEA every step of the way. Thank you very much.
General Director of the Rosatom Atomic Energy State Corporation Alexei Likhachev: President Putin, President Erdogan, colleagues,
Today is a remarkable day which will help promote cooperation in nuclear energy between Russia and Turkiye. Now that new nuclear fuel has been delivered to the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, it has become a nuclear site and the Republic of Turkiye has acquired the status of a country with peaceful nuclear technology.
We have worked hard to make this happen today despite all the challenges and difficulties. Neither the pandemic, nor foreign policy pressures were able to obstruct the construction of the world’s largest nuclear power plant. The credit for this, which cannot be overestimated, is to be given to the leaders of our two countries, who sometimes had to intervene personally to help us resolve certain issues.
Allow me to brief you on the current situation at the site.
Construction on the first unit is nearing completion, with the equipment being assembled at the site. At the second unit, the reactor vessel has been installed. At the third unit, the melt localisation device is being installed. In the fourth unit, reactor housing foundation reinforcement is nearing completion, and work continues on a key piece of equipment for the plant, the low-speed turbines.
The construction of Turkiye’s first nuclear power plant has become a true joint project: over 400 Turkish companies are taking part in it, and we can say that Turkiye now has its own nuclear industry cluster. The experience we have gained through cooperation will allow us to tap the potential of this industry at other sites, including international sites.
Guided by the principles of sustainable development, we always take part in the local peoples’ lives in the regions where we are working. Currently, our main social project in Mersin is the construction of a nuclear power plant town in Silifke. New residential housing, a hotel, a school and a childcare centre will be built there. This will attract local businesses and provide a new impetus for the development of urban life here.
Training and education for the power plant’s personnel is underway. About 300 people have already received educations in the professions needed by the nuclear power industry at Russian universities, undergone hands-on training and joined the project team. Education quotas will also be allocated for the coming academic years.
President Putin, President Erdogan, colleagues,
The service life of this nuclear power plant is at least 100 years, which means that the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant stands a chance of celebrating the bicentenary of the Republic of Turkiye. I am sure this plant will make a contribution to the reliable, and environmentally and economically efficient energy supply of several generations of Turkish people.
Finally, I would like to express our support for the Turkish people, who have had to cope with severe trials this year. I want to assure you that we are always ready to help – in both days of trouble and in happier times.
Again, I want to thank our presidents for the support they have given to this project of global importance.
Thank you very much.
Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Donmez (retranslated): Mr. President, Mr. President of Russia, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome to the ceremony for the delivery of the first nuclear fuel to the Akkuyu NPP.
Where we are now, we can see how this project has evolved, thanks to our President. In 2010, we signed the Nuclear Power Plant Construction Agreement. The construction of the four reactors is ongoing. And now we are taking another important step – for the first time, the first nuclear fuel has been received at the NPP.
Nuclear power is coming very soon to Turkiye. We hope to start producing electricity in the coming year. We are adding another form of energy to the energy mix in our country.
Mr. President, Mr. President of Russia, ladies and gentlemen,
The Akkuyu NPP is the largest investment in Turkiye 's history that is still underway. Four reactors will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 80 years. Approximately 10 percent of our demand will be met by nuclear power. It will produce 35 billion kilowatt hours. This facility will work for Turkiye for many years to come; Akkuyu is the next generation for energy sources in Turkiye.
The largest nuclear power plant in Turkiye is under construction here, and approximately 30,000 people are participating in this project. In addition to construction; the project also includes the electronics, mechanical engineering, and equipment production sectors, which are all contributing to this project. This nuclear power plant will be the leader of the next generation of energy production.
Mr President, Mr President of Russia,
For Turkiye, Akkuyu means more than just a nuclear power plant. This is the beginning, the starting point of nuclear energy development and production in Turkiye. Our students are studying in Russia; 500 students have been sent abroad to acquire knowledge and to come back to work here. We will do very quickly what it takes to fully and completely implement the generation of nuclear energy.
Before I conclude, I want to express my gratitude to our President, I want to express my gratitude to President Putin of Russia for his help, for his support. I would also like to thank Mr Likhachev, the Director General of Rosatom, and Mr Grossi, the Director General of the IAEA, who is here, as well as all those who have worked and are working at this facility, who work long hard hours – I want to thank you for that.
Once again, I would like to thank the people of Mersin, especially those who live here, close to the power plant. They have been very welcoming to all the people who have come here.
I would like to wish success and good luck to all our people and to our country.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, Mr Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, my dear friends.
I would like to sincerely welcome you, everyone here at this nuclear fuel delivery ceremony at the Akkuyu NPP. I would like to congratulate you on a new, important stage in the implementation of one of the largest joint projects in the history of Russian-Turkish relations, as it was just called – the construction of Turkiye’s first nuclear power plant.
I would like to emphasise that this is a flagship project. It brings mutual economic benefits to both partners and certainly promotes our versatile bilateral cooperation that rests of the principles of friendship, mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests.
This is exactly what I discussed with President Erdogan during our detailed telephone conversation, which just ended. Naturally, in addition to cooperation in peaceful nuclear energy, we also discussed other current issues in the development of the entire range of bilateral relations. A number of fundamentally important agreements have been reached.
The main thing – I will not go into detail – is that we agreed to further strengthen cooperation in the economy and trade, to encourage the progressive growth of bilateral trade, which exceeded $62 billion in 2022, and also to encourage the inflow of reciprocal investment, and to help the business structures of the two countries enter each other’s markets.
Russia will certainly continue to reliably provide Turkiye with energy resources, primarily natural gas. By the way, once Akkuyu is operating at full capacity, we will, of course, probably supply less natural gas to Turkiye. This is an expensive commodity today, and prices will only go up, but Turkey will enjoy the advantage of a country with its own nuclear energy, and as is well-known, nuclear energy is one of the least expensive sources of energy.
Moreover, we are determined to increase cooperation in supplying this type of fuel – again, I mean gas – to third countries. This is also what the proposal to create a regional gas hub in Turkiye to supply natural gas to interested foreign buyers at market prices is aimed at.
The president of Turkiye and I have agreed to expand cooperation in agriculture, establish mutual trade in agricultural products and coordinate efforts on international food security.
Mr Erdogan’s initiative on the free shipment of flour to the countries that need it most is also being worked out. The flour will be produced by the Turkish flour milling industry from grain supplied by the Russian side.
Both sides expressed interest in further developing tourism. As you know, Turkish resorts are very popular among Russians, and last year over 5 million Russians visited Turkiye. Of course, it is important to create favourable conditions for travel between the two countries, so we have agreed to increase the number of bilateral flights.
I would also like to reiterate our heartfelt sympathies to Turkiye over the major earthquake in February that caused many deaths and destruction – we talked about this on the phone. We are aware of the difficult tasks the government and the President of Turkiye have to resolve in rebuilding infrastructure, housing, and social facilities, and we are ready to continue to provide our Turkish partners with the necessary assistance and support.
In particular, we have decided to deliver a large shipment of Russian building materials to Turkiye in the near future. Of course, Turkiye's construction sector is very well developed, and so is its building materials industry, but this situation is special.
I would remind you that Russia was one of the first to send rescue teams and medical personnel to Turkiye, and has deployed a mobile multidisciplinary hospital in one of the most affected regions, where over 13,000 people have already been treated. And this help, I assure you, is absolutely sincere and disinterested: we are always ready to extend a hand of friendly support to our Turkish partners.
Returning to the main topic of today's event, which is dedicated to the supply of nuclear fuel to Akkuyu Unit 1, I would like to note that in a few minutes our Turkish colleagues will be receiving the relevant certificate. With this, Turkiye's first nuclear power plant will be officially designated as a nuclear facility, and the flag of the peaceful atom will be raised over the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant.
It is symbolic that Turkiye is joining the club of industrially and technologically developed countries that have a nuclear power industry, and it is in 2023 – as you suggested, Mr. President – that Turkiye is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkiye.
I would like to remind you that Rosatom began building this nuclear power plant in the Turkish province of Mersin on the Mediterranean Sea exactly five years ago, in April 2018. Mr Erdogan and I took part in a ceremony to mark that event, and we have been personally monitoring the Akkuyu project ever since.
Of course, without the support of the President of Turkiye, I think this would not have been possible, especially since, as you know, there are always some administrative difficulties in such large-scale projects, the need to overcome certain procedures, but all this was done through a cooperative effort.
I would like to emphasise that Russian and Turkish nuclear specialists – engineers and technicians – are cooperating in a smooth and friendly way, which results in power plant construction that is in full compliance with the approved schedule. Importantly, as mentioned earlier, they are simultaneously building all four generation III+ power units, with an aggregate capacity of 4,800 megawatts.
I would like to emphasise that today this is the biggest nuclear power plant construction site in the world. Over 20,000 people work here every day. In fact, it is now approaching 30,000 people and two thirds are Turkish citizens, which should also be noted. And these are only some of the jobs being created by the Akkuyu project. This means jobs, salaries, support for families and the like. This is practical work.
Many Turkish contractors are taking part in this project. They are involved in the construction, and in supplying materials and components, plus transport and other services. And much of the equipment for this new nuclear power plant is domestically sourced in Turkiye. I would like to note that the overall cost of these contracts is $4.2 billion dollars. These are the products that Turkish industrial companies have already manufactured for the Akkuyu project. The aggregate total for domestic sourcing is estimated at $6.5 billion.
I would like to emphasise that as a recognised leader in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, Rosatom is using the latest engineering designs and technology in building nuclear power plants. They are based on the highest standards of physical safety, sanitary and environmental requirements.
The construction of this nuclear power plant and the preparations for operation are in full compliance with the IAEA’s rules and recommendations. Mr Grossi, who is attending our ceremony, has just said that the Akkuyu NPP’s multi-level security system is one of the most sophisticated and reliable in the world.
After reaching full design capacity, this NPP will provide up to 10 percent of Turkiye’s energy consumption, meeting the energy requirements of the growing Turkish economy. Importantly, unlike traditional power stations operating on hydrocarbon fuel, this new plant will not emit carbon dioxide into the air, which will have a positive impact on the environment. Mr Grossi also mentioned the environmental aspect of this as well.
Russian specialists are educating highly qualified professionals for the Turkish nuclear industry as part of our cooperation on the Akkuyu project. My Turkish colleague mentioned this as well. I would just like to say that almost 300 Turkish students have already received an education in nuclear technologies. Rosatom also has a special centre to educate the future technical personnel of the Akkuyu NPP, where instruction is conducted in the Turkish language.
What does this mean? This is not just about one station. A new high-tech industry is being developed in Turkiye, and this is the main point.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that the construction of the first nuclear power plant and the development of a new advanced high-tech industry in Turkiye are a convincing example of how much you are doing for your country, Mr Erdogan, for its economic growth and for the Turkish people. I will put it straight – you are setting ambitious goals, and you are confidently implementing them.
This ceremony also bears out that the leaders of the Republic of Turkiye and its President are personally paying much attention to expanding Russian-Turkish relations in all areas.
For our part, we certainly support this attitude. We are convinced that our close cooperation, the Russia-Turkiye partnership, is mutually beneficial, meets the vital interests of the people of our countries and states and benefits regional and international stability in general.
I would like to congratulate you on this event. Thank you for your attention.
President of the Republic of Turkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan (retranslated): Mr President,my dear friend Mr Putin,IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, our nuclear power plant workers,
I welcome you warmheartedly, with all respect and love.
Today we have gathered here to share our pride and joy in a big step that puts Turkiye up with other nuclear powers.
I would like to thank all of our guests, especially our alliance partners who are taking part in this great day, and all our citizens who are watching us from their screens.
This ceremony fulfills yet one more of our promises, our promises to our people: we are seeing the delivery of nuclear fuel, which is the penultimate step before loading the fuel. After the delivery of nuclear fuel to our nuclear power plant by air and by sea, Akkuyu received the status of a nuclear facility. Thus, Turkiye has risen to the league of the world’s nuclear powers, even if belatedly after a 60-year delay.
Today there are 422 nuclear reactors operating all over the world, and 57 are under construction. The European Union receives 25 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Last year, the European Commission recognised nuclear energy as green energy, bringing any discussion of this issue to an end. With the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, we have made our country a part of these developments.
I would like to express my gratitude to all the authorities of the Russian Federation, above all, and especially to President Putin, who have supported our project from the very beginning.
Congratulations to all the Turkish and Russian personnel involved in the construction and production of our nuclear power plant.
Mr President, dear guests,
Here, we are building a nuclear power plant with four reactors. This nuclear plant alone will cover ten percent of the electricity consumption in our country.
This $20 billion investment project was designed and built by Rosatom, a Russian institution. Along with the construction of the facility, the responsibility for its maintenance, operation and decommissioning processes, which are essential for nuclear power plants, falls on the contractor. All the elements and units of our nuclear power plant will be put into operation in stages through 2028.
When it reaches full capacity, the plant will generate around 35 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. Without a doubt, even with this alone, our plant deserves to be called a ”strategic investment“ because of its unique contribution to our country's energy security.
This project will reduce our annual imports of natural gas by $1.5 billion, and it will also have a favourable effect on increasing our national income. The knowledge and experience we will gain here will take us to a new level in the nuclear field.
Our engineers and technicians, who will be trained in Russia and work at our nuclear power plant, will enrich the workforce of our country in the nuclear power field. As Mr. President said, more than 300 engineers have graduated from Russian universities.
In the planning and implementation of this nuclear power plant that we built, Akkuyu, safety was a top priority. The fact that our nuclear power plant was not damaged by the monstrous earthquake that occurred on February 6 shows how carefully our engineers and technicians carried out their work.
Our nuclear power plant complies with the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the European Union's International Atomic Safety Advisory Group, and our own legislation in this field.
In light of our experience in this project, we certainly hope to take measures for the construction of a second and a third nuclear power plant, which we plan to build in different regions, as soon as possible.
We will always gratefully remember the solidarity shown by our companies and the Russian companies that implement the Akkuyu project and that are working here as contractors. They have done everything possible to support those affected by the earthquake. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Russian authorities for their military field hospital, which was set up in the earthquake zone.
I am happy about the startup of our power plant.
I also want to express my appreciation and respect to you and I hope to meet you face to face next time.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Alexei Likhachev: I would like to address the Russian President.
I am asking for your permission to hand the certificate of delivery of the first batch of nuclear fuel to the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant to Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Turkiye Fatih Donmez.
Vladimir Putin: Before pronouncing these key words, “go ahead,” I want to recall something again and address President Erdogan.
Dear friend, do you remember my reaction when five years ago you set the goal to have this event coincide with the centenary of the Republic of Turkiye? I said this was unlikely because it was a very complicated and responsible process that required a lot of time to complete, as well as thoroughness and the need to consider every step on the way to this goal. Nevertheless, we managed to accomplish this with active support from you. This is really a great event.
Of course, as this certificate is being transferred [to the minister] now, I cannot help saying: Good luck!
Please, go ahead.
(The ceremony for handing the certificate of delivery of the first batch of nuclear fuel and raising the peaceful atom flag at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant).