In an exclusive interview with IRIB’s channel two TV station on Thursday night, Erdogan emphasized that peaceful nuclear technology is “the natural right of all [nations]” and once a country gains access to it no one can hinder the move.
He then pointed out that “there are currently 40 countries in the world that produce energy from nuclear power plants.”
Erdogan also criticized the hypocritical approach of Western powers on the nuclear issue, saying the US and its allies remain silent on Israel’s nuclear warheads due to their close ties with the regime, but show extra sensitivity towards Iran’s nuclear energy program.
“What is important is that Israel possesses nuclear warheads and I have personally had the most serious struggle against this matter and held talks [on the issue] with the US, Russia and the West,” the premier added.
The Turkish leader also cited a recent statement by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons, but intends to use nuclear energy for peaceful objectives, noting that “I have shared the Leader’s statement with [US President Barack] Obama and told him that in face of this assertion I do not have a different position and they (Iranians) are using nuclear energy peacefully.”
He also made reference to a number of other issues including Turkey’s hosting of a NATO radar system.
On concerns over his country’s hosting of the NATO radar system, Erdogan insisted that the system is solely a radar defense one and “does not include missile attack functions.”
The Turkish premier added that the radar system is not the first one on Turkey’s soil, but it is being “rebuilt under NATO’s framework,” noting that “this matter is very specific and our Iranian friends should not view it as threatening.”
Erdogan went on to describe the system as one “merely for intelligence [gathering],” insisting that its intelligence data will not be shared with countries other than NATO members. “If we learn of an intelligence leak, we will immediately halt the system,” Erdogan said.
He also noted that his country has not responded affirmatively to Western proposals on the radar system, stressing that the system’s activities are coordinated with Turkish military and foreign ministry.
During a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier on Thursday, Erdogan voiced his country’s unwavering support for Iran’s nuclear energy program.
“The government and nation of Turkey have always clearly supported the nuclear positions of the Islamic republic of Iran, and will continue to firmly follow the same policy in the future,” he said in the meeting.
The US, Israel and a number of their allies have time and again accused Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program without offering any evidence for such claims.
The US and the EU have also used the pretext to impose sanctions against Iran, while Tel Aviv has openly issued threats of a military strike against Iran. Washington, meanwhile, has repeatedly threatened Iran with “all options” on the table.
The Islamic Republic has strongly refuted the Western allegations regarding its nuclear energy program, arguing that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful objectives.