Turkey may need to reevaluate its commitment to NPT.

24 July 1999 Turkish Daily News 'Washington Insight' By Harun Kazaz 24 July,1999, Washington - Turkish Daily News Turkey is a signatory party to the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that forbids the research, development and production of nuclear weapons, and it has agreed not to acquire them. That was in the midst of the Cold War. Also in the midst of the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963, predicted that by the early 1970s 15 to 20 countries would possess nuclear weapons. Thank God his prediction did not become a reality. Today, the declared nuclear powers are the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China, joined recently by India and Pakistan. Israel is an undeclared power. Iran and Iraq are threshold nuclear states; Algeria, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan can also be included in this category. In addition, Sweden and South Africa have developed nuclear technology, but not an actual stockpile of nuclear weapons. Pakistan has admitted having received "offers by others" seeking to buy nuclear secrets. Recently, U.S. State Department official Martin S. Indyk told a foreign policy forum that the question is no longer whether Iran will obtain nuclear weapons, but rather how the United States will deal with Iran afterwards. And it is well known that Iraq has the know-how and has tried to - and may very well be currently working on - research and development of nuclear weapons. The point is that all the trends are negative on the non-proliferation issue, and two major developments with huge foreign policy ramifications are taking place right next-door to Turkey. Iran will be the first to come on line with its nuclear weapons. If we presume that Iraq is somehow "contained" forever from developing nuclear weapons and that no other Arab country will try to offset Israel's nuclear bombs with their own, Turkey will still have to deal with Iran's nuclear weapons. As Steven Mufson of the Washington Post recently correctly pointed out: "U.S. policymakers are increasingly turning from 'nonproliferation,' or preventive measures, to what in defense jargon is known as 'counterproliferation'; how to deal with countries that acquire nuclear weapons despite preventive efforts. The tools include economic sanctions, research on goo-emitting bombs that could smother chemical weapons and burrowing bombs that could reach buried targets, and 'theater missile defense,' a reincarnation of the Reagan era 'Star Wars' program to intercept missiles in flight." This is all well and good for the United States, which is quite far from possible hostile, renegade states and would have the luxury of time to react, the luxury of spending billions for theater missile defense, and certainly the luxury of the necessary political muscle to justify a preemptive military strike. But what about Turkey? Even if it buys into the "theater missile defense" structure and sinks billions into it, does Turkey have enough time to react if Iran, or for that matter Iraq, fires a missile with a nuclear warhead in the general direction of Turkey? "Some diplomats feel the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable. One former Defense Department official notes that all arms control efforts throughout history have failed, starting with a Vaticansponsored conference in the 12th century to ban production of the crossbow, an import from China that could pierce the armor of European nobles. 'There's a certain arrogance to say that you can stop the spread of technology,' the official said," writes Mufson on the non-proliferation issue.

No matter how much it is denied and no matter how heavy-handedly Iran is dealt with, it will sooner or later have the bomb and medium-range delivery capability. I would argue that for this and many other reasons, Turkey is now on the threshold and has to rethink its policy of remaining a member of the NPT. As much as I hate to see the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology, in the absence of any other real and effective counter-balancing deterrent, I can easily see Turkey officially dropping out of NPT for national security reasons and working on the development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. I see no reason not to follow Sweden's path. In other words, Turkey can develop the knowledge but not actually produce the weapons, using the knowledge as a deterrent. Of course, another alternative would be the Israeli model, clandestine development while denying possession from now until eternity and using this as a deterrent. A third alternative is a third-party defense umbrella. However, such a defense umbrella always comes with conditions attached. Turkey learned this lesson the hard way from President Johnson during one of the endless crises on Cyprus. In this age of uncertainty, it seems to me Turkey's relying on itself for nuclear deterrence against over-the-border developments is a much surer way than any third-party guarantees, including those of NATO. Only God knows if NATO would be there on time if Turkey needed it, or if the member states would be bickering among themselves while leaving Turkey to deal with its problem on its own.

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