Turkey's prime minister says Israel is a threat to the region for having a nuclear weapon. Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke Wednesday during a trip to South Africa. His comments were carried by Turkey's Anatolia news agency.
Israel refuses to confirm whether it has a nuclear weapon, following a policy it terms "nuclear ambiguity," but it is widely considered to be the Mideast's only nuclear power.
Turkish-Israeli ties have deteriorated over Israel's refusal to apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish activists in a raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship last year, prompting Turkey to downgrade relations. Israel maintains that its troops acted in self-defense.
Aggressive rhetoric. Erdogan (Photo: EPA)
Meanwhile, Iran criticized Turkey on Tuesday for agreeing to allow NATO to station an early warning radar in the southeast of the country that will serve as part of the alliance's missile defense system.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed the defense system was meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks in the event a war breaks out with the Jewish state.
"The missile defense shield is aimed at defending the Zionist regime. They don't want to let our missiles land in the occupied territories (Israel) if one day they take action against us. That's why they put it there," Ahmadinejad said in an address to the nation on state TV late Tuesday.
Turkey agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO's missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran. Ankara claims the shield doesn't target a specific country and had threatened to block the deal if Iran was explicitly named as a threat.
A military installation in Kurecik has been designated as the radar site, according to Turkish government officials. Kurecik in Malatya province lies some 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of the Iranian border.
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