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Erdogan 'cannot accept' being told Turkey shouldn't have nuclear weapons

Turkey is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 5 September, 2019

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he 'cannot accept' being told Turkey can't have nuclear weapons.
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday it was unacceptable for nuclear-armed nations to forbid Ankara from acquiring its own warheads, local media reported.
"Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads," he said. "But [they tell me] I can't have them. This, I cannot accept." 

While the president did not specify whether Ankara has any plans to acquire nuclear weapons, Erdogan hinted at the possibility by contrasting Turkey with the major world powers to which his government has long desired to be seen as equal.

"There is no developed nation in the world that doesn't have them," he said. "We have Israel nearby - as almost neighbours. They scare [other nations] by possessing [nuclear weapons].

"No one can touch them," Erdogan stated.

Read also: Arab states and nuclear energy: Necessity or geopolitical status symbol?

Israel maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity over its nuclear capabilities, refusing to confirm or deny how many warheads are in its possession. 
Turkey, on the other hand, is a signatory to both the Nuclear Non-Proliferaion Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The country does, however, host an estimated 50-90 US nuclear weapons under NATO's nuclear sharing policy.

While some analysts say Erdogan's hinting at a nuclear-armed Turkey is hot air, others are concerned that recent developments could mean there is some truth behind the bluster.

Ankara's relations with Washington have strained in recent years, with Erdogan earlier this year agreeing to purchase Russia's S-400 missile defence system in defiance of repeated US threats.

Growing closer with Moscow, Erdogan may seek to acquire fighter jets from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the absence of the F-35s denied to Turkey by the US. 
Over ice cream late last month, Putin and Erdogan began discussing both the fighter jet sale and further defence cooperation.

Analysts worry Putin is using Erdogan to destabilise internal NATO relations.

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