Türkiye will ask international inspectors to determine whether Israel has nuclear weapons, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday.
- Speaking to reporters on his flight home from Germany, the Turkish leader noted that Israel is among the few countries that are not parties to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Erdogan said Ankara would ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate whether the Jewish state has a nuclear arsenal.
- “Moving forward with this is very important in terms of balancing strategic interests in the region. We will continue to put pressure [on Israel],” Erdogan said.
- “Israel’s nuclear weapons must be inspected beyond any doubt before it is too late. We will follow this through. I also call on the international community not to let this go.”
Although experts widely believe that Israel maintains a nuclear weapons program, the country does not confirm or deny its existence.
Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu caused outrage across the Muslim world this month when he floated the idea of dropping a “nuclear bomb” on Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netahyau suspended the minister from cabinet meetings following his comments.
Erdogan has harshly criticized Israel’s conduct in Gaza, labeling it a “terror state” and accusing the Israel Defense Forces of committing war crimes against the Palestinians. Netanyahu responded by accusing the Turkish president of supporting “the terrorist state of Hamas.”
The current round of violence between Israel and Hamas broke out on October 7 when Palestinian militants attacked Israeli communities, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking over 200 hostages. Israel responded with airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza. More than 12,000 Gazans have been killed by the bombardment, according to local officials.