Turkish Security Policymaking on Nuclear Issues: Conceptualizing Advanced Cooperative Security Strategies
Gallagher, Nancy W.
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Turkey is a non-nuclear member of a nuclear alliance in a region where nuclear proliferation is of particular concern. As the only North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member that has a border with the Middle East, Turkish officials argue that Turkey cannot solely rely on NATO guarantees in addressing the regional security challenges. However, Turkey has not been able to formulate a security policy that reconciles its quest for independence, its NATO membership, the bilateral relationship with the United States, and regional engagement in the Middle East. This dissertation assesses the strategic implications of Turkey’s perceptions of the U.S./NATO nuclear and conventional deterrence on nuclear issues. It explores three case studies by the process tracing of Turkish policymakers’ nuclear-related decisions on U.S. tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, national air and missile defense, and Iran’s nuclear program. The study finds that the principles of Turkish security policymaking do not incorporate a fundamentally different reasoning on nuclear issues than conventional deterrence. Nuclear weapons and their delivery systems do not have a defining role in Turkish security and defense strategy. The decisions are mainly guided by non-nuclear considerations such as Alliance politics, modernization of the domestic defense industry, and regional influence. The dissertation argues that Turkey could formulate more effective and less risky security policies on nuclear issues by emphasizing the cooperative security approaches within the NATO Alliance over confrontational measures. The findings of this dissertation reveal that a major transformation of Turkish security policymaking is required to end the crisis of confidence with NATO, redefinition of the strategic partnership with the US, and a more cautious approach toward the Middle East. The dissertation argues that Turkey should promote proactive measures to reduce, contain, and counter risks before they develop into real threats, as well as contribute to developing consensual confidence-building measures to reduce uncertainty.