Turkey may go nuclear, defying predictions, non-proliferation fellow says

There are several signs that indicate Turkey could soon defy conventional wisdom and pursue nuclear weapons ambitions, according to non-proliferation analyst John Spacapan writing in the Bulletin magazine on Tuesday.

Turkey is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and has ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It also already has 50 American B61 nuclear bombs at a joint U.S.–Turkish airbase.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s has suggested he would like Turkey to acquire its own nuclear weapons, which he said were an enormous source of power for Israel. He has also said it is unfair to deny Turkey such weapons, and told ruling Justice and Development Party members that “some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads, not one or two. But [they tell us] we can’t have them. This, I cannot accept”.

Spacapan also said Ankara’s case for nuclear power at its under-construction Akkuyu power plant doesn’t add up as Russia will own and operate the plant, and Turkey has more economically-viable options in terms of renewables and hydrocarbon exploration to meet its energy needs. 

“What’s worrisome is Turkey could exploit nuclear power as a cover to procure bomb-related technology and hardware,” he said.

Furthermore, Erdoğan is closely collaborating militarily with a nuclear-armed Pakistan, which might share its technology. “Erdoğan’s current clout in Islamabad exceeds that of North Korea, Iran, and Libya, all of which received nuclear bomb help from Pakistan,” Spacapan said. “All of this ought to make Washington uneasy.”