In an interview with the BBC’s HARDtalk, Erdogan was asked point blank if he believes Iran should have a nuclear weapons program. His answer is yes:
SHOCKING: #Erdogan is defending #Iran's right to acquire nuclear weapons unless all other nuclear power countries give up their arms. (This is a complete reversal of traditional Turkish foreign policy. A nuclear Iran is first and foremost a threat to neighbouring #Turkey) pic.twitter.com/VqXdydMZEh
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) May 15, 2018
Here’s the audio translation of his answer that I found from the BBC:
I’ve transcribed this below:
HARDTALK: You think it’s alright if Iran did have a nuclear weapons program?
ERDOGAN: Israel has nuclear weapons. Is it a problem? The US has nuclear weapons. France has nuclear weapons. Is it a problem or not? If we are against nuclear weapons, we need to be against all nuclear weapons. If every country were going to abolish nuclear weapons, then it would not be appropriate for Iran to have one. But as others already have it, if one asks why would Iran try to get one, I do not approach this question in a positive way.
Erdogan clearly believes that if the west has nuclear weapons, then it’s totally fine and appropriate for Iran to have nuclear weapons. Which means Erdogan does not view Iran is a terrorist threat to the world, which says a lot about his Islamist worldview.
Erdogan also says something similar in a separate answer (it includes English captions):
#Erdogan tells BBC that the United States and France threaten the world with nuclear weapons yet they also consider #Iran and others acquiring similar capabilities as a threat. "This is impossible to understand", he says. pic.twitter.com/Kch80cryWe
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) May 14, 2018
As Abdullah Bozkurt points out, this is a reversal of traditional Turkish policy, which I believe underscores just how cozy both Islamic countries have gotten with each other in the last few years.
Of course Israel would vehemently disagree with this. But if there’s one Islamic country that I’d think would definitely be bothered by Erdogan’s statements on this, it would be Saudi Arabia. They are already fighting a proxy war with Iran in Yemen and I’m sure they will have something harsh to say about this the next time they speak with Erdogan.