Turkey with an atomic bomb: what could be Russia’s response?
Russia may have a nuclear power near by, with which in the past it repeatedly waged wars
By Sergey Putilov
Disagreements with America over the supply of Russian missile systems to Ankara, the scandal over the possible involvement of US intelligence in an attempted military coup in Turkey and the contradictions with Washington over Syria not only push the Turks into Moscow’s arms, but also make them think about ensuring their own security. And at the same time they encourage them to remember the former greatness of their country, when in the era of the Ottoman Empire the Turks ruled half the world.
Nowadays, according to the head of the Turkish state Erdogan, the true greatness of the country can only be achieved through the possession of the atomic bomb. Apparently, the Turkish President’s astounding statement that he considers the situation when the nuclear powers forbid Ankara to develop their own nuclear weapons to be unacceptable should be interpreted in this way.
“Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads, and not one or two. Moreover, they say that we cannot have them. I cannot agree with this, ”said Erdogan, speaking to members of the ruling Justice Party in the city of Sivas in the east of the country. As a justification for possessing nuclear power, Erdogan pointed to a Jewish state with which disagreements have repeatedly arisen among the Turks, claiming a leadership role in the region once subject to the Turkish sultans.
“We have Israel nearby, we are almost neighbors. They scare other countries with these weapons. No one dares touch them, ”he said.
The first talk that Ankara could become the second country with nuclear weapons in the Islamic world began back in the early eighties of the last century, when Turkey, according to Western media, established contacts with the “father” of the Pakistani atomic bomb, Abdul Qadiir Khan.
The story continued in 1998, when the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif in 1998 launched the initiative of “nuclear cooperation” with Ankara. Among other things, the possibility of producing centrifuges in Turkey was considered. Now Turkey is actively developing a missile program.
In particular, the other day a cruise missile was tested to destroy underground bunkers. In addition, four years ago, Ankara modernized hundreds of F-16 fighters so that they could carry missiles with nuclear warheads.
Theoretically, Turkey can as soon as possible create a “dirty bomb” from spent nuclear fuel contained in the fuel rods of the Russian Akkuyu NPP, which, however, does not exclude a more serious fuel treatment.
“The desire of the Turks during negotiations with the Russians to keep their fuel rods can mean nuclear ambitions, since this is the easiest way to get a plutonium bomb,” suggests Hans Rüle, author of The National Interest.
On the eve of Erdogan ordered the departments to provide maximum assistance in the construction of a nuclear reactor in Akku, the first unit of which should come into operation already in 2023.
However, for possession of a full-fledged atomic bomb this is clearly not enough. It will take years and billions of dollars to build a nuclear arsenal, which Turkey, in a difficult economic situation, can hardly afford. Significantly accelerate the process could cooperation with Iran, which is also suspected of secretly developing nuclear weapons. But Tehran is an ally of Damascus, with whom Ankara has very tense relations.
Should we be afraid that Turkey will acquire its own atomic bomb in the near future? Hardly. The country is closely integrated with the Western community, and still has not parted with the hope of joining the EU. Despite the contradictions with the United States, partnership with the European Union is one of the pillars of Ankara’s foreign policy. The application for possession of atomic weapons will put an end to decades of a loyal course that has led, among other things, Ankara to NATO. Having reached a standard of living comparable to European, the Turks are unlikely to agree to slide to the level of a rogue country like Iran or North Korea. And this will be inevitable due to the boycott, which the European community will know firsthand the Turkish Ottoman Empire’s imperial ambitions, if it decides to join the ranks of the countries of the nuclear club. Nobody wants to get Islamic rule in eastern Europe, fueled by centuries-old aggressive aspirations, and also got a nuclear club in their hands.
“From the point of view of Russia, whose relations with Turkey have ranged over the centuries from endless bloody wars to the current tactical friendship between Moscow and Ankara, the appearance of the Turkish atomic bomb is absolutely unacceptable. This places particular responsibility on the Russian initiators of the Akku NPP project. First of all, in terms of the full return to the Russian Federation of spent nuclear fuel. Although the Kremlin does not mind playing on the nerves of the Western community (and even make money on it), supplying the Turks with the latest anti-aircraft missile systems, and in the future with the latest fighters, however, Ankara’s nuclear ambitions should have a sobering effect on Moscow’s rulers, ”said the head of the strategic center Other Europe research Pavel Levushkan.
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