U.S. Democrat Senator Edward Markey and Congressman Brad Sherman on Wednesday introduced legislation that denies any foreign country, specifically naming Turkey, to acquire nuclear weapons without the fulfilment of obligations of relevant treaties.
The bill would require the U.S. president to certify whether any foreign country is violating any obligations under a weapons of mass destruction treaty or there is credible evidence that the foreign country’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful before signing a new or renewing existing civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, called 123.
Markey, a ranking member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said statements by Turkish officials indicate that Ankara may fail to honour its obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to not acquire a nuclear weapon and Congress, for now, has no say on the renewal of civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Turkey in 2023.
“President Erdogan’s flaunting of international norms – from Turkey’s invasion of Northern Syria, crackdown on human rights within Turkey, and his open desire to acquire a nuclear weapon – make it vital that Congress have the chance to vote to approve a new or extended 123 agreement with Turkey,” Markey said.
Turkey signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1980, and has also signed the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear detonations for any purpose.
In a first public reference on the issue, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 4 that it was unacceptable for nuclear-armed states to forbid Turkey from obtaining its own nuclear weapons.
The Turkish president stopped short of saying that Turkey would begin developing weapons.
“The United States should not be in the business of selling nuclear technology to leaders who have openly expressed an interest in seeking nuclear weapons. This is true whether the leaders are from Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey,” said Sherman, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.