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Turkey's New Ballistic Missile Program Raises Eyebrows and Concerns

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Turkey’s defense procurements to date have focused heavily on defensive systems aimed at the former Soviet Union and offensive systems designed to attack the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Backed by the safety and security offered by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s collective security guarantee, as well as between 60 and 70 American tactical nuclear weapons stationed on Turkish soil, Ankara revamped its national security strategy in October 2010. In a sharp departure from the past, Ankara announced that it was removing old foes Iran, Iraq, Greece and Russia from the list of countries considered to be a threat and embarking on a more inclusive foreign policy.

While the events of the past 18 months have altered Turkey’s security situation, Ankara has not announced any changes to its 2010 defense policy. Turkey remains committed to its long-standing pursuit of defeating its Kurdish insurgency, establishing regional stability and securing economic and political influence in neighboring countries. Therefore, Turkey’s recent announcement that it intends to develop 1,500-mile medium-range ballistic missiles is a bit baffling. The missile is not useful for the fight against the PKK, nor is it entirely clear whom Ankara will aim it at. ...

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