The Threat of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation from Turkey


Nuclear Awareness Project
Media Backgrounder
June 1998

[email protected]

The Threat of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation from Turkey

The dark underside of nuclear power has always been its potential for
nuclear weapons proliferation, either through the reprocessing of spent fuel
to produce plutonium – – an inevitable byproduct of reactor operation – – or
through the transfer of sensitive nuclear information, technology and

Canadian nuclear cooperation with India and Pakistan provides a chilling
example of how the transfer of so-called “civilian” nuclear technology can
contribute directly and indirectly to the development of nuclear weapons.
Canada provided the technology at the foundation of the Indian and Pakistani
nuclear programs and continues to provide vital information and assistance
to maintain those programs through the CANDU Owners Group (COG).

The Turkish Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (TEAS – – a
state-owned utility) is expected to soon make a long-awaited announcement
about the winner of a bidding process to build a nuclear power station at
Akkuyu Bay on the Mediterranean. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is
bidding to sell two 700 MW CANDU reactors to Turkey at a cost of about $4
billion (CDN). It is bidding against a German/French consortium (Nuclear
Power International – NPI – is a cooperative venture between Siemens/KWU and
the French national nuclear company Framatome). The third consortium bidding
is a partnership of Westinghouse and Mitsubishi.

Three items providing background on the possible nuclear weapons
proliferation threat from nuclear power development in Turkey follow.

The first item is an article from the Turkish daily newspaper “Radical” on
June 1, 1998. The article is entitled Pakistan’s offer for cooperation.
Radical is a major daily paper of an intellectual nature (it is NOT
particularly left-wing, as the name might suggest). We have investigated the
report and have confidence in its reliability. The reported offer from
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Turkish President Suleyman Demirel
took place on May 11, 1998 – – the day after India exploded its first three
nuclear bombs on May 10.

The second item is a report on a former Turkish NATO General making a thinly
veiled statement in support of a nuclear weapons program for Turkey. This
report indicates that there is at least some support in the Turkish military
for nuclear weapons development. Although Turkey is a nominal democracy,
nobody has any doubts that the military really runs the country. For
example, it was the military that forced the government of Necmettin Erbakan
to step down in June 1997, and replaced it with the government of Mesut

The third item is an excerpt from a report called “The CANDU Syndrome” that
I wrote in 1997. It provides some historical background with evidence of
Turkey being used to ship nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan; and an
attempt to purchase a reactor from Argentina, likely for plutonium
production. The purchase was stopped by pressure from the USA.

It is very likely that nuclear-armed confrontation is in the future of the
middle east if nuclear development is allowed to continue unchecked. Israel
already has a well developed nuclear weapons program. Iran has two reactors
under construction by the German company KWU, with two more to be built
there by China. Iraq’s nuclear program was destroyed only during the Gulf

For more information, please refer to “The CANDU Syndrome” on ,
or , or contact:

Dave Martin
Nuclear Awareness Project
Box 104
Uxbridge, Ontario
L9P 1M6

tel/fax 905-852-0571
E-mail: [email protected]


June 1, 1998

Pakistan’s offer for cooperation

It is declared that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has offered Turkey
cooperation for Nuclear Weapons. Being surrounded by countries with nuclear
programs pushes Turkey to take the necessary measures even while it
continues disarmament efforts.

By Deniz Zeyrek

Ankara — India and Pakistan’s nuclear tests, which sparked international
opposition, have resulted in action in Turkey, which is surrounded by
countries with nuclear programs, including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Israel, and
the former USSR. Turkey is anxious about the latest developments. On the
other hand, according to the information received, Pakistan Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif has said to Turkey `Let’s work together on nuclear weapons’. It
is reported that Nawaz Sharif made this offer personally to [Turkish]
President Suleyman Demirel and to the Minister with him.

According to the information we received, during the May 11-12 Economic
Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Summit at Almati, Kazakhstan, President
Suleyman Demirel met with Nawaz Sharif. During the discussions Demirel put
the India-Pakistan conflict onto the agenda. Nawaz Sharif explained that a
large part of the conflict was caused by India’s nuclear tests, and said
that Pakistan is also conducting nuclear research for defense purposes.

Foreign threats

Border disagreements between Pakistan and India, and their declaration of
themselves as nuclear states, prompted Turkey to put nuclear weapons on the
agenda as a national security issue. The record of Turkey’s neighbours on
nuclear and chemical weapons, also led Ankara to undertake an initiative in
this direction. One cabinet member spoke about the anxiety of Turkey because
of the danger with which it is confronted, and said: “We must also acquire
these technologies in the next ten years. The necessary investments are

Because the efforts of the UN Security Council and the international
campaign for the reduction of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons could
fail, Turkey’s defense plans were put onto the political agenda of the
Government. Some of the members of the government continue to insist that
these initiatives should be taken, and they defend the use of nuclear
technology for military purposes. Ankara, however, is demanding that a
“regional forum” should be constituted and that nuclear and chemical weapons
should be removed from the arsenals of countries in the region. [Turkish]
Foreign Minister Ismail Cem forwarded this proposal to all countries of the
region except Israel. Turkey also continues efforts for conventional
disarmament and is trying to revive the Agreement for the Reduction of
European Conventional Forces. However, the lack of response >from countries
in the region, and the failure of disarmament efforts, leads Turkey to take
the necessary measures.


On May 18, 1998, the Turkish TV news channel NTV re-broadcast a program
called “Pasaport” which was originally broadcast from Ankara on May 17,
interviewing the retired Turkish Lieutenant-General Erdogan Oznal, who was
formerly in charge of the Balikesir Nato Air Base. He was responsible for
NATO fighter/bomber aircraft in Turkey armed with nuclear warheads during
the cold-war.

The moderator reported on the recent nuclear weapons tests in India and
Pakistan, and asked the General what his feelings were while he was in
charge at the Balekesir Base, waiting for a possible command to launch and
fire nuclear weapons. He spoke cooly about waiting over the years for the
possible command.

General Oznal described the nuclear threats around Turkey’s borders, such as
Israel and Iran, which have their own nuclear programs. General Oznal
repeatedly emphasized the nuclear threat from Israel, India, Pakistan and
clear that Oznal was referring to the development of a nuclear weapons


Turkey and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

This is an excerpt from “The CANDU Syndrome: Canada’s Bid to Export Nuclear
Reactors to Turkey”, by David H. Martin, September 1997. The entire report
is posted on the web page of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear

Turkey ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
on April 17, 1980, and the safeguards agreement went into force on September
1, 1981.[1] At the controversial “Extension Conference” of the NPT in April
1995, the five nuclear weapons states sought, and despite strong opposition,
obtained indefinite extension of the treaty. Turkey demonstrated its loyalty
to the international nuclear status quo by supporting the “indefinite and
unconditional extension” of the treaty.[2]

Despite Turkey’s observation of the non-proliferation proprieties, there
have been past concerns about alleged nuclear proliferation connections with
Pakistan. Signing the NPT does not necessarily mean much. Article X of the
NPT allows any party to withdraw with only three months notice if
“extraordinary events… have jeopardized the supreme interests of its
country”.[3] Alternately, states such as Iraq and the Peoples Republic of
China have simply ignored the strictures of the Treaty, despite their
continued adherence. Pakistan has actively pursued nuclear weapons
capability for many years, and has refused to sign the NPT. Pakistan is in
an unofficial sub-continental nuclear arms race with India – and both
countries are considered undeclared nuclear weapons states. Connections with
such states may have serious implications – Chinese nuclear dealings with
Pakistan have been the main cause of an American nuclear trade boycott of

The first allegation of a Turkey/Pakistan nuclear connection was in 1981.
The current Turkish ambassador to Canada, Omer Ersun (then Chief of Policy
Planning at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the military
junta) has confirmed that the US administration protested a $30,000 shipment
of “inverters” from a Turkish textiles firm to Pakistan, allegedly for use
in the Pakistani uranium enrichment program.[4]

Relations between Turkey and Pakistan became increasingly close after the
military coup in Turkey on September 12, 1980. The respective military
leaders of Turkey and Pakistan, President/General Kenan Evren, and
President/General Zia ul-Haq exchanged a series of official visits that only
ended with Zia’s 1988 death in a plane crash. In the early 1980s, Greek
Prime Minister Papandreou charged that “Pakistan expected Turkey to act as a
transshipper of material for a nuclear bomb and would reciprocate by proudly
sharing the nuclear bomb technology with Turkey”.[5]

It has also been reported that Canada withdrew its bid to supply CANDU
reactors to Turkey in the mid-1980s, partly “in response to pressure from
Western countries which [are] concerned that Turkey may build a nuclear bomb
based on CANDU technology”.[6]

Concerns about Turkey’s potential involvement in nuclear weapons
proliferation have continued in the 1990s. As noted above, international
pressure was required in 1990-91 to force an end to joint plans by Argentina
and Turkey to build the CAREM-25, a 25 MW reactor in their respective
countries. As noted above, Yalcin Sanalan, a former Director of TAEA stated
that the CAREM- 25 was “…too small for electricity generation and too big
for research or training, however, very suitable for plutonium
production”[7] Furthermore, in 1992, Senator John Glenn and other US
congressmen accused Turkey of supplying sensitive technology to Pakistan in
order to aid in that country’s acquisition of uranium enrichment

In 1995, a Greek foreign ministry official, Thanos Dokos repeated concerns
about “nuclear cooperation between Ankara and Islamabad… and reports that
Turkey might try to acquire nuclear weapons material and technology and
recruit nuclear scientists from the Muslim republics of the former Soviet

It has been suggested that the American government does not have serious
concerns about the nuclear proliferation potential of Turkey.[10] However,
the potential for nuclear weapons proliferation through the sale of CANDU
reactors to Turkey remains a valid concern. It can be assumed that the
American government is pleased with the ouster of Erbakan’s Islamist
Refahyol government, and its replacement by the more pro-western government
of Mesut Yilmaz in June 1997. However, two issues must be raised in
response. One is that Erbakan may be returned to power in the near future if
the military allows a democratic election to take place. Second, continued
military domination of Turkey should not really give any reassurance. As
noted above, the military has also had strong ties to Pakistan, and may
favour the creation of `Islamic’ nuclear weapons.


1. United Nations, The United Nations and Nuclear Non-Proliferation, UN
Department of Public Information, 1995, Document 46, p. 183.

2. Kibaroglu, ibid., p. 33.

3. United Nations, ibid., p. 62.

4. Kibaroglu, ibid., p. 35.

5. “Turkey’s role in Pakistan’s nuclear program”, Worldwide Report, March
20, 1987, pp. 14. Cited in: Kibaroglu, ibid., p. 35.

6. “Canadian firm drops bid to build nuclear plant”, Nuclear Developments,
February 25, 1988, p. 39. Cited in: Kibaroglu, ibid., p. 36.

7. Cited in: Kibaroglu, ibid., p. 38.

8. Kibaroglu, ibid., p. 39.

9. Thanos Dokos in “Greece”, in Harald Muller, ed., Nuclear Export Controls
in Europe, Brussels, European Interuniversity Press, 1995, p. 208. Cited in:
Kibaroglu, ibid., p. 39.

10. Mark Hibbs, ibid., September 4, 1997, p. 8.


Nuclear Awareness Project
P.O. Box 104
Uxbridge, Ontario
L9P 1M6

Tel/Fax 905-852-0571
E-mail: [email protected]

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress