I have started blogging on a bi-monthly basis for the excellent Nukes of Hazard Blog (A Project of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation)
This article was originally published here and I am reposting it on Turkey Wonk.
Bordered by three states known to have pursued both ballistic missiles and WMD capabilities, Ankara has set its sites on purchasing missile defenses.
Turkey first engaged with Israel in 1997 for the Arrow interceptor, believing that system was best suited to defend against Iran’s growing ballistic missile capabilities. The interceptor has an exploding warhead and is designed to intercept missiles with a range up to 1,500 km. These design features, in theory, allow for the Arrow to intercept the incoming missile at a higher altitude and before the break up of the missile upon atmospheric re-entry. At the time, Turkey and Iran were experiencing terrible tensions stemming from Tehran’s alleged support for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
While the United States remained fixated on Iraq’s scud missile development, Turkey was making plans to defend against the Iranian missile threat. The United States, however, was wary of the export of the Arrow to Turkey, due to concerns that the transfer would violate the missile technology control regime (MTCR) – an informal group of supplier states working together to prevent the spread of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles. As the Arrow’s primary funder, the U.S. needed to sign off on the deal before Israel could export the technology.
In 2001, the George W. Bush Administration dropped the U.S. objections, and entered into negotiations with Turkey and Israel for the joint production of a Turkish missile defense system. Negotiations were halted in 2001, however, after Ankara experienced a large financial crisis.
The issue of missile defense returned to Turkey during the negotiations for NATO’s new Strategic Concept.
(Click over to the original posting to finish the article here)