In an exclusive interview with Today's Zaman, Lee said negotiations with Turkey regarding the issue are in progress, adding, “We certainly still have a chance [to undertake the construction of the second nuclear plant].”
Lee said Turkish officials are expected to make their final decision on the issue in June.
Commenting on the fruitless nature of the negotiations thus far, he said: “The main disagreement is about the price of the electricity to be produced. South Korea wants a state guarantee from Turkey because this investment requires a great deal of money. It is difficult for only one side to meet this. If there is a state guarantee, the interest rate of the credit to be used will fall. This is about risk sharing.”
According to Lee, Turkey's need for electricity will increase in the future and that even if South Korea fails to undertake the construction of the second nuclear plant, it will be interested in the construction of a third plant.
In 2010, the Turkish Parliament approved a bill on an agreement between Russia and Turkey for the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant in the coastal town of Akkuyu, in Mersin province. According to the agreement, which was signed during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's official visit to Turkey in May 2010, the two countries would cooperate on the construction and operation of the power plant.
A consortium led by state-controlled Russian builder Atomstroyexport will construct the plant in Akkuyu, paying the whole cost of construction for the nuclear plant, which is estimated to be around $20 billion.
Turkey plans to construct a second nuclear plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop.
The South Korean diplomat also spoke of the love for Turkey in his country due to Turkey's support for South Korea during the Korean War in the 1950s.
Turkey was the second country to answer the United Nations' call to dispatch troops to stop North Korean aggression and push back the invaders. It initially sent a brigade of 5,000 troops comprising three infantry battalions, an artillery battalion and auxiliary units. In the ensuing war that lasted until 1953, the Turkish Brigade lost 721 men and over 2,000 were wounded. A total of 168 Turkish soldiers went missing. A full 14,936 men served in the brigade during these years.
“We are like blood brothers,” he said, voicing his appreciation for the hospitality and warmth of Turks.
Lee also noted that a school opened by Turkish entrepreneurs in South Korea will help develop bilateral relations between Turkey and his country.
“These international schools make a contribution to mutual understanding and peace,” he said.