The indicators of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s quest for nuclear weapons have in fact appeared since he assumed the post of prime minister in 2003. These indicators have been increasing since then, and what is new is what the British newspaper, The Express, has revealed in a report written by Turkish journalist, Abdullah Buzkurt, that the Turkish President Erdogan has secret programs to produce a nuclear bomb.

There is a secret nuclear program for Erdogan aimed at manufacturing nuclear weapons. For Erdogan, it was not enough that his country has the second most powerful army in NATO, but he also wants to possess a weapon of mass destruction. This is what Bozkurt has confirmed, who added that Ankara has a program to develop a nuclear weapon, and seeks through secret programs to possess weapons of mass destruction, such as the nuclear bomb, as a deterrent weapon. These claims were asserted by Aykan Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish parliament and an analyst at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who said that Erdogan has a strong desire to turn Turkey into a nuclear country, but the country lacks capacity, as Turkey lacks Financial and human resources needed for this high-cost project.

This information, which is confirmed by several facts, all related to Erdogan’s efforts to obtain a nuclear bomb, puts the course of the Turkish foreign policy in the dock, hence, it must be subject to careful study, especially the relation with the Qatari regime and Erdogan’s extreme defense for the regime there which was revealed by the current Gulf crisis.

The biggest obstacle to Erdogan’s possession of nuclear weapons then is the financial capabilities, which was referred to by the Turkish member of Parliament, Erdemir. So, it is possible that President Erdogan has used the Qatari regime through secret programs run by the intelligence services of the two countries aimed at making a nuclear bomb. This can be the closest and most accurate interpretation of Ankara’s defense of the regime in Doha and the insistence of the latter on its intransigence and its failure to respond to Arab and Islamic demands.

This fact explains some parts of Turkey’s foreign and domestic policies, most notably the lack of serious and public criticism for Iran’s nuclear program, as well as Erdogan’s liquidation within government and military institutions to get rid of non-loyalists who could pose a threat to Erdogan’s nuclear dream.

The talk about Erdogan’s efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction is not new. A number of experts have talked about that in the past, most notably Hans Riele, the head of the Planning Commission in the German Defense Ministry, who said that: “There are strong indications that Turkey seeks to secretly build a nuclear bomb, In light of the world’s preoccupation with Iran’s nuclear program.” In an article in the German newspaper Die Welt, Riele noted that German intelligence had spied on Turkish officials for many years and their findings had proofed strong indications of Turkey’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

There are several indicators of Ankara’s quest to obtain of nuclear weapons, according to reports, statements and international newspapers including:

  • German intelligence reporting that then Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had issued orders in 2010 to build secret uranium enrichment facilities
  • Erdogan’s government signed an agreement with Russian company “Ross Atom” in 2011 to build a large nuclear reactor, worth 15 billion dollars, 300 km from the city of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast in southwestern Turkey, and that was followed by another agreement worth 17 billion euros with a French-Japanese company.
  • Turkey has a large number of nuclear centrifuges believed to have come from Pakistan.
  • Turkey’s attempt to develop missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, which was confirmed by Yusal Altnebsak, the former director of the Turkish Technological Center, who stated that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered in 2011 to develop a plan to produce ballistic missiles with a range of 2500 kilometers, and seeks to develop Intercontinental ballistic missiles with a range of up to 10,000 kilometers.
  • According to the Israeli security establishment, there are allegations that Ankara is moving to develop its own space program. Military sources assume that countries that are seeking to develop a space program are the countries that have a desire to acquire a nuclear weapon!

However, and despite all these efforts through which Ankara seeks to obtain a nuclear weapon, there are several reasons and obstacles that stand in the way of this ambition, most notably:

  • High financial cost
  • The political hesitance over this issue fearing the reaction of the superpowers and the international community as well as its status in NATO.
  • The Greek factor, as Greece is Turkey’s bitter enemy and will not be silent on Turkey’s acquisition of nuclear weapons at any cost.
  • The lack of the necessary infrastructure to produce fissile material necessary for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Moreover, Turkey does not have the necessary infrastructure to extract and enrich uranium or reprocessing depleted nuclear fuelز

Therefore, Ankara seeks to rely on foreign resources in secret ways and may have chosen for this mission Qatar as a solution to the prohibitive financial cost through Doha’s commitment to finance these secret programs in exchange for Turkey’s protection of the Qatari regime.

Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

13 August 2017