Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for a two-day visit to discuss Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The series of meetings, which included President Ahmadinejad, parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, and supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also addressed bilateral ties and trade between Ankara and Tehran while showcasing the two states’ enduring cooperation in spite of “the arrogance of Western countries.”
The visit, in what will most likely reinforce tensions between Washington and Ankara, follows a nuclear security summit meeting in South Korea where President Barack Obama warned that the “time is short” for diplomacy with Iran. The meeting also reaffirms Turkey’s committed policy position in support of Iran’s nuclear endeavors.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan (L) met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad (R) during his two day visit to Tehran.
In spite of hosting a NATO defense shield radar designed to warn of Iranian ballistic missiles in the region, Turkey has strictly opposed U.S. and EU efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear enrichment capabilities via economic sanctions — most likely due to Ankara’s close economic ties with the Islamic Republic and dependency on Iran for 30% of its oil imports.
Turning a blind eye to last November’s report by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency revealing that Iran had “carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device”, Erdogan criticized Israel’s threats to launch a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. “No one has the right to impose anything on anyone with regards to nuclear energy,” he said.
While Turkey’s allegiance to Iran’s nuclear freedom will not likely influence the closing timetable for diplomatic initiatives, it does serve as a somber reminder that the consequences of a nuclear Iran and its provocation of nuclear proliferation in an increasingly fragile region is not considered a threat by all.