LONDON (AFP)–Turkey’s prime minister said Tuesday it was “only rumors” that Iran was making nuclear weapons, stressing the Islamic republic’s right to develop civilian atomic power.
Speaking before meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London, Recep Tayyip Erdogan also questioned why countries like Israel did not face calls from the international community to disarm, while Iran did.
“It’s only rumors that Iran is making nuclear weapons,” Erdogan told the BBC, speaking through an interpreter. “I believe it is Iran’s most natural right to employ nuclear energy for civilian purposes.”
Turkey has good relations with its neighbor Iran and has offered to host an exchange of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) with 20 percent enriched uranium to be supplied by world powers to Tehran as part of a U.N.-drafted deal.
The prime minister added that countries with nuclear weapons “are not in a position to turn to another country and to say: ‘Oh, you are not supposed to produce nuclear weapons.'”
“Take Israel. Israel possess nuclear weapons. Why aren’t other countries warning Israel to dispose of her nuclear weapons but they’re doing the same to Iran?” he asked.
At a press conference with Brown at Downing Street later, Erdogan said he would like to see “a world without nuclear weapons” and advocated diplomacy over sanctions.
“We always say to all of our friends we would not like to see any nuclear weapons in our region,” he said. “We believe in the importance of a diplomatic solution.”
He added: “Sanctions have been imposed twice before and if it’s considered to carry on with the sanctions a third time, we will see but what I would say is that what we need to do … is find diplomatic solution.”
Brown added: “Prime Minister Erdogan and I share a conviction that we must resolve this issue diplomatically and my belief is that the U.N. Security Council must take action to ensure sanctions against Iran.”