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The Nuclear Bargain: Turkey and Tactical Nuclear Weapons

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This paper provides an overview of Turkey’s history with forward-deployed tactical nuclear weapons and the reasons for Ankara’s commitment to the maintenance of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. To do so, the paper compares the Turkish position on the maintenance of U.S. forward deployed nuclear weapons with the policies of the other NATO that states that host nuclear weapons. To evaluate whether nuclear weapons play a functional role in the Turkish security strategy, the paper analyzes Ankara’s military modernization program and includes a detailed analysis on Turkey’s procurement and development of air and ballistic missile defense and precision strike. It concludes that while Turkey invests in developing indigenous conventional capabilities and does not assign a role to nuclear weapons in its strategic planning, the NATO deterrent continues to be the backbone of Turkish security policy. As such, Ankara continues to perceive the tactical nuclear weapons as a symbol of alliance coherence against threats from the Middle East.

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