Turkey's Erdogan says it is unacceptable that he does not have nuclear weapons

He also criticised Israel, saying its nuclear weapons are a threat to other nations

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during a ceremony marking the third anniversary of the attempted coup at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, July 15, 2019. Reuters
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during a ceremony marking the third anniversary of the attempted coup at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, July 15, 2019. Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has complained that Turkey is forbidden from owning nuclear weapons while other countries possess them, accusing them of hypocrisy.

“Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads, not one or two. But (they tell us) we can’t have them. This, I cannot accept,” he told his ruling AK Party members in the eastern city of Sivas.

But he did not elaborate on whether Turkey had plans to obtain such weapons.

“There is no developed nation in the world that doesn’t have them,” Mr Erdogan said. However, many developed nations do not own nuclear weapons.

He also criticised Israel, saying its nuclear weapons are a threat to other nations. The Turkish leader hinted that he wanted the same protection for Turkey as Israel.

"We have Israel nearby, don't we? They scare (other nations) with these," he said.

Foreign analysts say Israel possesses a sizable nuclear arsenal. Israel maintains a policy of ambiguity around the nuclear issue, refusing to confirm or deny its capabilities.

Turkey does not possess nuclear weapons and has been a party to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty since 1980.

The Turkish leader's remarks come amid burgeoning defence ties between Turkey and Russia in defiance of Ankara's Nato ally the United States.

Washington has reacted to Turkey's purchase of the S-400 by kicking the country off its F-35 fighter jet programme.

The US says Russia will be able to glean sensitive technical knowledge about the new fighter if it is operated alongside the S-400.

On Friday, Mr Erdogan suggested Turkey could look to Russia for an alternative after its F-35 exclusion.

Published: September 5, 2019 11:56 AM

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