Will Erdogan get nuclear weapons for Turkey?

Turkey Nukes

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that Turkey should seek nuclear weapons in recent televised comments. It is not the first time Erdogan has made comments like this. Turkey, a NATO ally, has already strained relations with the U.S. over it’s Middle East war efforts and military purchases outside of NATO. Will Erdogan’s wish be granted, or will this further strain relationships between the U.S., NATO allies and Turkey – with a response of no?

Can Turkey even be treated as trusted NATO partner? A growing chorus of policy-makers and foreign-policy analysts feel it can’t. As far as nukes, Turkey is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1980, and further signed the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear tests for any purpose. So they would have to break a few treaties to do this – or get an agreement to do so.

During this televised speech Erdogan said, “They say we can’t have nuclear-tipped missiles … This, I can’t accept,” according to Turkey’s Ahval news. See Erdogan comments posted on Twitter (in Turkish).

Some have already questioned whether Turkey can be trusted with U.S. nukes let alone nukes of their own. The decision by Erdogan to choose Russia’s S-400 air defense system over America’s best weapons angered the Obama administration when the deal was being made. The problem was Erdogan wanted more than just the missiles. He also wanted classified technology so that Turkey could produce its own air defenses in the future. The Russians did not place these restrictions on their sale. Because of Turkey’s decisions, Congress now wants more economic sanctions that could further cripple Turkey’s ailing economy.

The Federation of American Scientists believes that the U.S. has about 50 B61 nuclear gravity bombs stationed at Incirlik, in Turkey. Each of these nukes has a maximum yield of 170 kilotons, or ten times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. After the 2016 Turkish coup attempt, access to the base was cut off for a week by forces loyal to Erdogan who surrounded the base and arrested some alleged coup-plotters. Is Turkey stable enough to be trusted?

Turkey and Israel have difficult relations – another boiling issue. Erdogan regards himself as the champion of the Palestinian cause and is a vocal critic of Israeli policies. The two leaders have also exchanged words in the past over Gaza. In one choice exchange, Erdogan blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “tyrant” who “massacred” Palestinian children. Just how comfortable would Israel be, with a Turkish nuke next door?

News Forecasters already answered the question of whether the U.S. and its allies can allow Iran to have nukes – the answer was no. News Forecasters believes the answer will be the same for Turkey – no. The obvious next question is, will Turkey start a clandestine nuclear program behind the back of the U.S.?

If Turkey would start a clandestine nuclear program, it would virtually end their NATO relationship. Turkey will think twice before doing this. News Forecasters believes that there is a better than 50%/50% chance that within 5 years they may stop thinking and start acting. It will largely depend if Erdogan is still in power – or someone like him. Once discovered, this would set-up a significant geopolitical crisis.

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