Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Turkey Special Weapons

Many Middle Eastern states have, at one point or another, attempted to acquire missile and other technologies associated with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Unlike most of its NATO allies, Turkey did not emerge from the Cold War with enhanced security. The acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles by its neighbors in the Middle East Iran, Iraq and Syria created a serious security concern for Turkey. Turkey is acquiring capabilities to deny adversaries the benefits of these weapons. These capabilities including passive and active defenses as well as improved counterforce means will enable Ankara to strengthen deterrence and provide an effective defense should deterrence fail.

As host to the Jupiter missiles, Turkey was part of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. US Jupiter missiles were removed from Turkey in April 1963. The question of nuclear weapons has not exactly been the subject of an internal debate in Turkey. As part of its NATO commitment Turkey has hosted American nuclear weapons for nearly six decades. The US stockpiles about 70 B-61 nuclear bombs for Turkish F-16 Dual Capable Aircraft (DCA) that are at the disposal of the Turkish Air Force, which do not have to be renewed until the mid 2030s.

NATO’s security guarantees, which hinge ultimately on the U.S. nuclear presence and U.S. extended deterrence commitments in Europe, and Turkey’s own national defense and deterrence posture, must remain convincing to Turkey as well as to the WMD-armed states that threaten Turkey. In recent years while Turkey’s threat perception has heightened, its trust in NATO or US extended deterrence commitments has diminished. Ankara’s bitter experiences during the 1990-1991 Gulf War suggest that Alliance cohesion problems could pose serious obstacles to an effective and timely NATO response to NBC-armed aggression against Turkey. NATO’s failure to provide a determined response to the Turkish requests for reinforcement units from NATO’s multinational rapid reaction force, including air defense assets, strongly reinforced the existing Turkish concerns and suspicions about “selective solidarity.” Such fears were probably reduced after 19 November 2012 after NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance would consider a request from Turkey to deploy Patriot anti-missile batteries along its border with Syria.

Turkey is not known to have consistently pursued a nuclear program. Both opportunities and interest in nuclear weapons have been attested. Ankara’s encounter with the available nuclear resources dates back to the time when Turkey ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) on 17 April 1980. In the same year, the Turkish President, General Kenan Evren and the Pakistani President, General Zia ul-Haq, started an exchange of ideas on cooperation in developing nuclear weapons technology. This continued up until the latter’s death in a plane crash in 1988. Later, in 1990-91, cooperation between Argentina and Turkey to build the CAREM-25, a 25 MW nuclear reactor in their respective territories was ceased due to international pressure.

In 1998, Turkey, in cooperation with several international companies sought to build a nuclear reactor at Akkuyu Bay on the Mediterranean for civilian purposes. The bidders included Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a German-French consortium (Nuclear Power International-NPI), and a partnership between Westinghouse and Mitsubishi. However, in the same year Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sherif offered Turkish President Suleyman Demirel cooperation in developing nuclear weapons on May 11, 1998 during the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Summit in Almaty, Kazakhstan. There were increased international suspicions that the “civil” nuclear reactor could also serve military purposes. Therefore, due to international and environmentalist pressures, the Akkuyu Nuclear Reactor project was halted as well.

Although Turkey does not currently generate any electricity from nuclear power, the government has advocated construction of nuclear power plants in an effort to diversify Turkey's electricity supply portfolio. The development of its own nuclear power industry was one of the priorities outlined for the country's government in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's address to parliament following his election victory in July 2007. In 2008 Turkey was preparing to issue a public tender for the construction of its first nuclear power plant and plans to build at least two nuclear reactors by 2015. Turkey may consider building a uranium enrichment center as part of an ambitious plan to develop the country's nuclear potential, a national newspaper said.

If Iran goes forward with a nuclear weapons program, other states in the region were likely to proliferate as well. There are no indications that Turkish policy elites harbor designs of acquiring nuclear weapons. At a minimum, Turkish responses to an Iranian nuclear weapon would include a re-evaluation of the battle readiness of the B-61s at Incirlik air base, as well as the acquisition and training of nuclear capable front line fighters. Turkey sees a military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities as the worst possible outcome on the Iran issue. Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability would only be the second worst outcome. This hints at the depth of Turkey's anxiety about the dangers to regional stability, including Turkey's, of the unintended consequences of any further military action in the region, and explains Turkey's commitment at almost any cost to continued western diplomatic engagement with Iran. Almost a third of Turks polled do not consider a nuclear-armed Iran to be a threat, believing that Iran would never attack a fellow Muslim country.

Turkey attaches particular importance to arms control and disarmament. Active participation in international efforts in these areas, adherence to relevant international instruments and their full implementation, as well as maintaining the coordination among relevant institutions are important elements of Turkey’s national security policy. As a result of the momentous changes that took place in the European security architecture over the last decade, the general aspiration for a new security system based on cooperation has given a fresh impetus to arms control and disarmament endeavours, which was welcomed by Turkey.

Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and their delivery means is a growing tangible threat in the 21st century. Easy access to these weapons through trafficking and willingness of some states to cooperate with terrorist, extremist or organized crime groups increase the concern that such weapons might end up in illegal hands. In the light of the threatening dimension of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Turkey sincerely desires to see that all countries will come to share the goals of non-proliferation and collectively work towards a safer and more stable world. In this vein, Turkey has welcome the UN Security Counsil Resolution 1540 on the non-proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction. Turkey, regularly reports to and contributes to the work of the Committee established pursuend to the UNSC Resolution 1540.

Turkey does not provide any form of support and/or assistance to Non-State Actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transfer or use WMD and their means of delivery and fully supports all international efforts to prevent the proliferation of WMD.

The proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and their means of delivery continue to be a matter of serious concern for Turkey. Since Turkey is situated close to regions posing high risks of proliferation, she monitors with vigilance the developments in this field and takes part in collective efforts aimed at devising measures to reverse this alarming trend. Turkey attaches great importance to arms control and non-proliferation treaties and also to export control regimes as means to prevent such proliferation. In this context, in order to follow the developments and enable an effective exchange of views in the field of non-proliferation regarding Turkey’s obligations; regular meetings are held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the participation of representatives of all related institutions.

Turkey became party to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1979 and to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 2000. Turkey is also party to both the Chemical Weapons Convention since 1997 and the Biological Weapons Convention since 1974. In 1996, Turkey became the founding member of the Wassenaar Arrangement regarding export controls of conventional weapons and dual-use equipment and technologies. Turkey joined the Missile Technology Control regime in 1997, the Zangger Committee in 1999, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Australia Group which seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons, in 2000.

Within the framework of Article VII. of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the “Law on Prohibition on the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons” (Law no. 5564) entered into force at the end of 2006.

In line with her general stance against proliferation of WMD, Turkey has declared her support to the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) which was launched by the President of the USA during a speech in Krakow, Poland, in May 2003. The PSI builds on wider efforts by the international community to prevent the proliferation of WMD, including through existing treaties and regimes. The scope and aims of the PSI are set out in the statement of Interdiction Principles (Paris, 4 September 2003). Turkey, while following other PSI activities, has herself hosted a land, sea and air interdiction PSI exercise in 24-26 May 2006 with the participation of 37 guest nations. Turkey continues to actively contribute to the PSI activities.

Turkey has also welcomed the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 regarding the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery. With a view to fulfilling the provisions of international non-proliferation instruments and arrangements to which Turkey is party, an enhanced system of export controls is implemented in Turkey. The Turkish export controls system is in line with the standards of the European Union.

Turkey considers the The Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC) as the first step towards an internationally accepted legal framework in this field. Turkey became party to the mentioned Code at the launching conference held in The Hague on 25-26 November 2002.

Turkey also joined the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) of ten countries (Turkey, Germany, Poland, Netherland, Canada, Chili, Mexico, UAE, Australia and Japan) launched with a view to contributing to the implementation of the consensus outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and to take forward the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda. The first Ministerial meeting of the NPDI which H.E. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attended was held on 22 September 2011 on the margins of the UN General Assembly. The second Ministerial meeting of NPDI was held in Berlin on 30 April 2011. Turkey has been making substantial contribution to the process on the basis of its views and goals in the areas of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

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