Going nuke, caught nude
Burak BekdilPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s famous series of quotes “Muslims don’t kill,” “Muslims don’t commit genocide” and “Muslims don’t resort to terror” from a couple of years ago also contained another jewel: “Muslims don’t resort to nuclear weapons.” That last one had probably left Pakistanis heart-broken who may have wondered why the Turkish prime minister did not think they were Muslims; and the rest of the world in suspicion if Pakistan was a Catholic state.
In February 2010, then U.S. Ambassador to Ankara, James Jeffrey, said “he was skeptical Turkey can persuade Iran to abandon any ambitions it might have for a nuclear bomb.” Only a month later, Mr Erdogan told BBC he believed Iran had no intention of developing nuclear weapons and “he had full confidence in Iran’s guarantees that its nuclear program was for civilian purposes only.” Those were the days when Mr Erdogan described Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad as a “friend,” and previously as a “brother.”
Now, bad news came from Vienna. UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said it has serious concerns that Iran is secretly working toward building a nuclear bomb, citing documents pointing to Iranian scientists’ extensive and most likely ongoing efforts to master the technology needed for atomic weapons.
The IAEA cited credible intelligence provided by 10 countries and vetted over several months that contradicts Iran’s claims that its nuclear intentions are entirely peaceful. “The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,” the watchdog said. And it described a “structural, focused and secretive effort by Iran to acquire the essential skills for weapons building, from warhead design to the testing of triggering devices.”
In Ankara, there may be a few explanations: a) Iran has covertly changed its official religion since “Muslims don’t resort to nuclear weapons,” or b) IAEA’s rapporteurs must be non-Muslims and their findings are slander. Therefore, after the Palmer report, the IAEA report is null and void. And c) we can no longer play this game and should add, sooner than later, Mr Ahmedinejad to our ex-brothers list after Gadhafi and Al-Assad. Fourth option: We can still play for time and choose vagueness in our official rhetoric until we cannot.
What about a mixture of all possible languages which, when mixed, do not make sense? Such as this: Iran has every liberty to seek nuclear energy; the IAEA report is not binding and its validity must be checked further and further (until Iran has had time to conclude the bomb); but of course we would not wish to have neighbors with nuclear weapons which we don’t believe Iran’s nuclear program is about; and, wait a minute here, for peace in our region first Israel must be denuclearized.
I have no idea if Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu may or may not have yet realized that zero problems with our neighbors and brotherly alliances based on faith in this part of the world are not dreams that may come true just because a pro-active minister is at the helm of foreign policy in Ankara.
It’s sad, though, that Mr Davutoglu’s “I-have-a-dream” rhetoric has already found unpleasant echoes on the mindset of the average Turk. According to Transatlantic Trends, Turkey is the NATO member with the lowest support for the alliance: 37 percent in this year’s survey, down from 53 percent in 2004. And, as in past years, Turks this year were the least worried about Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. Only 38 percent of Turks are troubled by Tehran becoming a nuclear power, while 25 percent accept that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons in Iran? We Turks don’t care.