February 16, 2012


Turkey and the Bomb

Sinan Ülgen | Carnegie Paper


Though most states that want a nuclear weapon can get one through determined effort, the fact remains that most choose not to proliferate. Turkey is no exception. Not even the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is likely to push Ankara to develop its own nuclear weapons. The only circumstance where such a scenario would acquire a degree of likelihood is a breakdown in Turkey's security relationship with the United States.

As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Turkey is host to Alliance nuclear weapons. Relying on this nuclear deterrent, Ankara has a very clean nonproliferation record and is actively pursuing a range of conventional forces to protect it from modern threats.

It is unlikely that Turkey would voluntarily damage its relations with key allies and seriously complicate its international standing by choosing to proliferate. But proliferation is not the whole story. Turkey is intent on transitioning to nuclear power and has disclosed an ambitious nuclear program that shapes Ankara's viewpoint on international nuclear governance. As a strong proponent of states' rights to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Turkey argues against some international efforts to constrain the exchange of nuclear-sensitive materials. Ankara even supports Iran's rights to a civilian nuclear program. Full Article

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