Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Containing the Nuclear Genie: Will Turkey Tap into Nuclear Power?

Posted by K.E. White on August 5, 2007

Turkey’s recently empowered AKP majority government might just dust off as till now dormant plans for a nuclear power program. If Turkey takes this step, will nuclear weapons be an inevitable outcome in the future? 

No—but that depends a lot on Iran. And Turkey may follow Iran’s nuclear trajectory, developing its nuclear weapons capability by asserting its right to pursue nuclear energy technology. 

From the Turkish Daily News:

Recent power and water cuts led to intensified calls to consider nuclear energy as a solution out of the current crisis, as temperatures are predicted to keep rising resulting in longer and hotter summers for the country. 

The Turkish capital woke up to dry taps yesterday as a result of dramatic rises in temperatures that have dried up water reservoirs, while power cuts remained restricted to a few cities in western Turkey. A series of interruptions in energy supplies prompted both fears of regular blackout and debates over the government’s energy policy.  

Earth Times, citing the Turkish Daily News, gives more detail to Turkey’s still manageable energy woes: 

The Turkish Daily News reports the country’s average appetite will be 190 billion kilowatt hours this year, up from 176 billion kwh last year, which was an 8.4-percent increase from 2005.

Turkey’s energy minister says cuts to supply will be limited to a handful of areas, not mass cuts countrywide.

 But the Turkey still categorically rules out a nuclear weapons program:

 We believe that states of the region should terminate their efforts for developing such weapons and their delivery means and, become party to the non-proliferation regimes and treaties as soon as possible. In this respect, the need for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East is of paramount importance.

Turkey does not possess WMD and does not intend to have them in the future. Turkey adheres to all major international treaties, arrangements and regimes regarding non-proliferation of those weapons and their delivery means, and actively participates and supports all efforts pertaining to non-proliferation in the NATO.

In line with our non-proliferation policies, we are committed to the goal of extensive and complete disarmament of WMD under strict and effective international control. In our view, success in disarmament and arms control initiatives primarily depends on the creation of a political atmosphere inspiring confidence. (Turkish General Staff website)

But an earlier section of this policy statement merits attention:

As it is known, Turkey is situated in a region having an inclination to the proliferation of WMD and their delivery means. Some of our neighbours, who are not parties to the regimes or organizations aiming at preventing the proliferation of WMD, are attempting to develop these weapons. These dangerous attempts are being observed closely and anxiously.

Turkey—a member of NATO and strong US partner—is not now pursuing a nuclear weapons program. 

But this policy is based on a critical premise: that the Middle East remains nuclear free. While this region did not hit a tipping point with Israel ‘non-existent existent’ nuclear deterrent, Iran’s developing nuclear program risks setting off nuclear weapons proliferation throughout the region. 

And while a nuclear armed Middle East could bring Cold War era stability, this outcome comes with a grave risk: nuclear weapons entrusted to slippery hands. 

Fragile regimes + strong currents of radicalism + nuclear weapons = greater global security? 

Doubtful.

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