Iran’s nuclear programme and energy are among Turkey’s top priorities during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Tehran. Ahead of the talks, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said: “We don’t have a common goal with Iran on the subject of nuclear power plants.”
Iran is among several nations which want to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey. It is a billion dollar project as Turkey firmly believes in the need for new energy sources. After meeting the Iranian delegation at Sadabad Palace, Yildiz had a long chat with Turkish journalists. He said: “I say it clearly: We do not have a common goal with Iran to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey. On know-how or on any other subject related to that, we will not work with the Iranians.”
These words reflect Turkey’s concerns about being too dependent on Iran over energy. Turkey is already buying 18 per cent of its natural gas and 22 per cent of its oil from Tehran. For Yildiz this is “too much” and Turkey’s strategic target, is to diversify its energy sources.
“We currently buy our natural gas from five countries and oil from 11. We are looking for new suppliers of oil and gas,” said Yildiz. He said Western nations which want Turkey to be tougher on Iran have to take into consideration Turkish needs. “We are not like Italy or Greece who only get 2 per cent of their oil needs from Iran. It is easy for them or France to give up Iranian oil. But it is different for us, and they have to understand that,” he added.
Yildiz also said that EU or US decisions or rulings about sanctions are not legally binding in Turkey: “If the UN takes a decision, of course we will comply. But we will tell our side of the story and ask for other ways of supplying our needs.”
Yıldız stated that Turkey shares concerns over Iran’s alleged development of atomic weapons. But he said “Iranian leaders are telling us it is not in accordance with Islamic law to use such a destructive weapon. Their programme is peaceful. And we have to believe their words.”
Bora Bayraktar, Tehran