A slow-fuse Turkish bomb? (II)

A slow-fuse Turkish bomb? (II)

“A Worst Practices Guide to Insider Threats: Lessons from Past Mistakes,” written by Matthew Bunn and Scott D. Sagan, is a fun-and-serious booklet to read. 

“Insider threats are perhaps the most serious challenges that nuclear security systems face,” the paper opens. “Fortunately, only a modest number of serious insider cases have been identified in the nuclear world. Unfortunately, it is likely, given the classified nature of security records and reports, that we have not identified all serious cases of insider threats from the past. Moreover, the potential danger is so high in the nuclear world that even a modest number of insider incidents is alarming,” it concludes. 

Turkey, whose leaders insist the world order is “wrong” and “it must be corrected,” have long been aspiring to become a permanent or permanent, but alternating member of the United States Security Council (UNSC). Presently, all five permanent members have nuclear weapons. 

Turkey has been a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) since 1980. After 34 years, credible watchdog organizations classify Turkey in the category of “not free countries.” (The Freedom House published its 2014 rankings and put Turkey into the “not free” category of countries, down from an earlier “partly free” class).

Turkey embarrassingly ranks in the bottom slices of any credible index measuring democratic culture and civil liberties. Turkey’s ruling elite, a bizarre blend of Islamists and opportunists, often defend themselves that “they are not dictators,” a “confession-rather-than-denial” kind of defense line that no elected party in any democratic part of the world would feel compelled to opt for. 

Ironically, in the history of nuclear weapons programs since the end of World War II, only those countries classified as “undemocratic/autocratic” have cheated or attempted to cheat the democratic parts of the world by signing the NPT and later by starting nuclear programs. Proliferation experts agree that the NPT might serve as a confident measure to stop nuclear proliferation, except undemocratic countries.

Eighteen countries in the Middle East have declared that they would pursue nuclear energy programs. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are believed to be able to earn this capability before the other 13. 

Meanwhile, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Security Index, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Turkey, on a list of countries without nuclear weapons-usable materials, ranks 33rd in most favorable nuclear materials conditions based on “global norms, domestic commitments and capacity and risk environment.” Turkey ranked worse, for instance, than Slovakia, Latvia, Malta, Estonia, Romania, Cyprus, Ukraine (Ukraine!), Armenia, the UAE, Cuba and Macedonia. 

According to another study by Mr. Sagan, fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-chair of the Global Nuclear Future Initiative, aspiring nuclear power states score much more badly in political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, control of corruption and democratic score than states with nuclear power. 

For example, the discrepancy in favor of nuclear states is 90 against 60 in democratic score; 60 against 40 in political stability and 70 against 50 in government effectiveness.

“Life in a nuclear-armed crowd” could be fun to watch from a planet full of aliens hostile to mankind, but a tragedy if not enjoyed from a safe distance. 

Perhaps I should quote from this column barely two months ago: “It is not always a good omen when a minister of a country trying to revive its imperial past talks about a need to circumvent the MTCR [Missile Technology Control Regime] – especially when the same country is privately seeking uranium enrichment capabilities. Most recently Mr. [Taner] Yıldız, energy minister, said the nuclear power plant contract with Japan allows Turkey to make modifications, including for uranium enrichment.”

And I should remind, once again, that the country that is trying to revive its imperial past is just “not free.” Neo-Ottoman Turkey’s illusions of grandeur have little limits. Sadly, its long-long-long-term ambitions may not be too environment – and peace-friendly. But let’s hope Turkey will not be the topic of a chapter in Mssrs. Bunn’s and Sagan’s book’s future editions.