American bomb, the assurance of the new foreign policy
The vast majority wants the Middle East denuclearized. Two countries in the Middle East possess nuclear weapons. Also, a third country is developing nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.
The first country that has nuclear weapons on its territory is Israel. Allegedly, Israel has nearly 200 nuclear warheads. Israel has also developed long-range missiles so that these can reach distant targets. Moreover, it can even be estimated that it has equipped the conventional submarines it has purchased from Germany with nuclear warhead missiles.
Nuclear weapons and missiles are Israel’s own possession.
The second Middle Eastern country that possesses nuclear weapons on its soil is Turkey.
At its İncirlik Base, there is a “sufficient amount” of B61 tactical nuclear bombs deployed. The B61s are in the possession of Turkey’s NATO ally, the United States. Turkey’s inventory does not include any planes able to carry these bombs for now.
The country that possibly will develop nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future is Iran. Iran already possesses the medium-range ballistic missile skill required in the future for its nuclear warheads to reach their targets.
And finally, these B61s are situated in four European members of NATO alongside with Turkey: Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Italy.
Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands do not want the B61s on their soil anymore. In Turkey, on the other hand, neither the government nor the public has any discomfort about the presence of B61s in the country.
On the contrary…
The new foreign policy of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government on the Middle East, especially its Syrian policy, has increased Turkey’s need for the deterrence of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Speaking at a recent conference on the nuclear global order in Brazil, Sinan Ülgen, director of Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), said: “Even though Ankara is aware of Russian tactical nuclear weapons, it believes that the ongoing presence of NATO nuclear weapons will deter Syria, which possesses chemical weapons and Iran, which will [potentially] possess nuclear weapons in the future. … While Ankara is struggling with the question of how to deter a Syrian chemical weapon attack, it may opt to increase its support for nuclear weapons in Europe’s forefront.”
Ülgen said the fact Turkey and Iran favor different solutions for Bahrain and Syria has caused tension between them, and this has led to Turkey’s withdrawal of its public support for Iran’s nuclear program.
Actually, Iran’s nuclear program has always been a threat to Turkey.
The AKP’s foreign policy-makers who have ignored this in the past in the name of the “zero problems policy” and who have allowed Iran to gain time with unnecessary deeds such as the “Tehran Declaration,” will have the need ever more for the B16s to stay at İncirlik in the face of the threat stemming from the Iran.
As an irony of history, Iran has become a “joint threat” at different levels for Israel and the Turkey it has apologized to. The reason is Ankara’s Syrian policy.
Kadri Gürsel is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on March 28. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.