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Nuclear Deterrence, Missile Systems and the Security of Turkey in the “New” Middle East

This article explores Turkey’s changing regional security and Ankara’s pursuit of a missile defense shield. We assess three options available to Turkey’s strategic policy makers. The first avenue is maintenance of the status quo and continued integration into NATO’s ballistic missile defense systems. The second is a break away from NATO systems, to pursue an indigenous system, based on Chinese technology, but developed as part of the T-LORAMIDS program, under full Turkish control. The third involves the development of military dimensions to its nascent civilian nuclear program, in order to provide a strong deterrent in this problematic region. The article wraps up its finding by coming to the conclusion that Turkey is attempting to maximize its security position by pursuing a multilayered combination of the three options above.

Nuclear Deterrence Missile Systems and the Security of Turkey in
Patriot batteries, based in 3 southern cities, served in Turkey for 2 years (2013-2015) under NATO command to prevent any possible attack from Syria. AA PHOTO / İSMAİL HAKKI DEMİR
 

Adeterrence-based analysis of Turkey’s security can provide descriptive clarity in a complex region. The common position when approaching Turkey is that the U.S. nuclear umbrella, as a result of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership, is the ultimate guarantor of the security of Turkey. Since 1952, this collective arrangement has provided Turkey with a great deal of stability and continuity. This stability is in sharp contrast with its neighboring states, such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Georgia, who do not possess this guarantee, and who all have been the focus of security competitions. With this in mind, it seems puzzling on the surface that Ankara is prepared to antagonize its key security partners by engaging China to jointly develop an air and missile defense system.

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