For General Release: June 10, 1999
The media has been characteristically silent on an issue that could radically transform the geopolitical landscape of Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia: Turkey's program to construct nuclear reactors on its southern coastline.
American, Canadian and European companies are bidding for the right to sell sensitive nuclear reactor technology to Turkey.
In 1981, Israeli fighter jets bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor on the grounds that the reactor constituted the key to developing an Iraqi nuclear weapons program, and thus a threat to regional stability. Given Turkey's increasingly expansionist agenda towards EU and NATO-member Greece, its belligerent posture towards neighbors Armenia and Syria, and its self-image as a regional superpower -- which led to a coup attempt against Azerbaijan's government in 1995 -- a far larger threat to regional stability would be posed by a nuclear Turkey.
The development of a Turkish nuclear capability will arguably constitute the most significant geostrategic crisis to face Hellenism, Armenia, and the development of democracy in the Balkans and southwestern Asia in the coming century.
As reported by Economist correspondent Marcia Kurop in The Christian Science Monitor ("Accommodating Turkey", 7/31/98), Turkey's nuclear aspirations are an axial reason underlying the Turkish state's dogged determination to make its occupation of Cyprus permanent: "the Turks - in contrast to what the United States tries to portray as a local, Balkan-type conflict - openly admit their strategic argument for wanting an independent north: shipping to Turkey's southern coast; the development of nuclear facilities in southern Turkey; oil shipping ports to be based in Ceyhan; fortified bases at Adana and Iskanderun; military relations with Israel. All are part of their need for an independent north."
That one of the overriding interests in Turkey's acquisition of this sensitive technology is the development of a military nuclear capability was mirrored in a June 9, 1998 front-page article in the Turkish newspaper, Cumhuriyet, regarding the issue entitled "Atom Bomb Report to Parliament". This despite a heightened sensitivity by the Turkish Atomic Energy Commission towards any admission to the military component of Turkey's impending nuclear acquisition.
While our media has sounded alarm bells in reaction to the threat of Russia's transfer of nuclear technology to developing or potentially hostile governments, growing concern over the transfer of US nuclear secrets to China under the present Administration and Iraq's Western-supplied chemical weapons program underscores the fact that it is industrialized nations in the West that bear a large burden of the responsibility in the proliferation of dangerous technologies of mass destruction.
Placing nuclear military power into the hands of nations who have not yet developed the self-restraint and the political maturity to harness it is developing into the greatest threat to global security into the next millennium.
The same nuclear technology that helped start the nuclear race on the Indian subcontinent is going to be transferred to the Turkish government. David Martin of the Nuclear Awareness Project has warned that "there is a real risk of nuclear weapons proliferation from transferring nuclear technology and know-how to Turkey."
Yet Mr. Martin has also warned of an enormous environmental risk being taken by the Turkish government in placing the reactors in Akkuyu Bay, less than 70 miles from densely-populated Cyprus. "Turkey is one of the most earthquake-prone regions of the world" Martin writes, "hence [Canada's] proposal to sell two CANDU reactors to Turkey incurs the risk of a catastrophe maiming or killing millions of people in Turkey and surrounding countries."
In a study released by Earthquake Forecasts, Inc this February, Karl Buckthought, Ph.D., noted that "the Akkuyu site is near an active fault line, the Ecemis fault [which is] long enough to produce an 8 Richter earthquake" and in a region that "has experienced a number of strong earthquakes over the past 100 years." Dr. Buckthought emphasized that the consequences of a serious nuclear accident "are horrific - millions of people in Turkey and surrounding areas [will be] hit with disabling and lethal radiation" including Cyprus, Greece, and Israel. The study concluded that "[t]aking account of all the data available, we may state that there is an unacceptable level of risk associated with the proposal to place nuclear reactors at Akkuyu Bay."
An innovative lobbying website has been developed at Diaspora-Net (http://www.diaspora-net.org/nuclear) which gives individuals concerned about this crisis immediate and direct access to relevant policymakers in Canada, the U.S., and the E.U. via a free fax service. Jim Karygiannis, a Canadian Member of Parliament and one of the organizers of the lobbying effort, has urged the Hellenic and the Armenian communities to take an active role in this intense effort to stop what many believe is developing into Greece's, Armenia's and the entire region's worst nightmare: a nuclear Turkey.