US Congressmen introduce legislation to deny Turkey’s Erdogan a nuclear weapon

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) have introduced the Preventing the Spread of Nuclear Weapons Act, legislation that would require the U.S. President, in connection with signing a new or renewing an existing civilian nuclear cooperation (123) agreement, to certify whether any foreign country is violating any obligations under a weapons of mass destruction treaty or there is credible evidence that the foreign country’s nuclear program will be anything but exclusively peaceful.

If either of the two conditions above are met, any new or renewed U.S. 123 agreement, such as Turkey, will be subject to a joint resolution of approval by Congress. The United States 123 agreement with Turkey, signed in 2008, is due to be automatically renewed in 2023 without Congress being able to weigh in. Recent statements by Turkish senior leaders indicate that Turkey may fail to honor its obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to not acquire a nuclear weapon.

 “President Erdogan’s flaunting of international norms – from Turkey’s invasion of Northern Syria, crackdown on human rights within Turkey, and his open desire to acquire a nuclear weapon – make it vital that Congress have the chance to vote to approve a new or extended 123 agreement with Turkey,” said Senator Markey, Ranking Member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

“Turkey is signed onto the NPT Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state and Congress must make it clear that it will not tolerate an arms race in the volatile Middle East,” he added.

 “The United States should not be in the business of selling nuclear technology to leaders who have openly expressed an interest in seeking nuclear weapons. This is true whether the leaders are from Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey,” said Congressman Sherman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

 “This bill ensures America will not give a blank check to countries seeking nuclear weapons by requiring Congress to approve any nuclear cooperation agreement with these countries,” Rep. Sherman added.

In September, Turkey’s President Erdogan said he “cannot accept” a state of affairs in which Turkey has no missiles armed with nuclear warheads.

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