Participants of the Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone

free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction:


Reaffirm their commitment to the goal of establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems;



Recognize the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and frameworks, including the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540;


Recognize the importance of regional security and reaffirm the aims and objectives of the Middle East peace process; recognize also that efforts towards establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction and efforts in improving regional security are mutually reinforcing;


Decide to establish a Working Group on arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament composed of diplomatic and technical representatives from all present parties to identify  principles and modalities of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East, including the geographic scope, verification standards, compliance and enforcement mechanisms, without prejudice to other issues that parties may raise in the course of the Group’s deliberations;


Decide also to establish a Working Group on regional security composed of representatives from all present parties to address regional security concerns and consider ways to enhance regional security, to possibly include confidence building measures, and regional security dialogue;


Decide that the Working Groups be convened no later than December 2014, and be co-chaired by the co-conveners of this present conference; and request the co-chairs to report on the Groups’ deliberations and conclusions as agreed in the Working Groups by consensus;


Request the Facilitator, to convene a conference in March 2017, together with the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, in close consultation with the states of the region, to discuss and review the reports of the Working Groups and to decide on further steps;


Request the UN Secretary-General to render the Working Groups all necessary assistance;


Take note of the background documentation regarding modalities for a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation, and invite these organisations to provide consultative support to the Working Groups.


December 20, 2013



The incredible shrinking buffer


By Bilal Y. Saab – On the eve of a basketball game between the United States and Angola during the 1992 Olympics, a reporter asked NBA superstar Charles Barkley how he felt about the coming matchup. “I don’t know anything about Angola,” Barkley replied, “but Angola’s in trouble.”


Two weeks ago, a Lebanon-based journalist told me that a Salafi Syrian rebel commander gave him a similar response when asked what he thought about the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the multinational force put in place in May 1974 to preserve the cease-fire between Israel and Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The mere presence of UNDOF, the militant said, would not change his military calculations nor make him more cautious in his fight against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


































It should come as a slight relief to peacekeepers that the prominent commander, whose group is active just a few miles away from their area of operations, did not seem to care much about UNDOF’s presence — as opposed to actively trying to target it. But that will hardly be enough to reassure the international forces. Thanks to the raging civil conflict in Syria and the resurgence of extremists in the country and across the Middle East, UNDOF’s role is at serious risk for the first time in its history. The weakening of UNDOF will further destabilize an already dangerously unstable region.


UNDOF’s initial task, in the aftermath of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, was to monitor the withdrawal of Israeli and Syrian troops from the buffer zone (a geographical area of separation that is approximately 50 miles long and ranges from 9 to 186 miles wide). It would be a gross exaggeration to credit UNDOF alone for the 40 years of peace that held along the border; what has maintained the calm all these years is the simple fact that neither country has wanted a war. Israel, for the most part, benefits from the status quo, particularly since the Golan Heights continues to provide it with strategic depth. Syria’s loss of territory to its historical enemy, although humiliating, was in many ways good for Damascus, too. All in the name of fighting Israel, the Assads were able to justify the consolidation of Alawite rule, build a police state, and eliminate any political opposition. Less concerned about Israeli military designs, the Assad regime has settled for waging proxy warfare against Israel through Hezbollah and Hamas.


But UNDOF’s presence has been much more than symbolic. The force’s role as a neutral and transparent coordinator and communicator between Israel and Syria effectively decreased the chances of escalation during past tense incidents. In January 2003, for example, Israeli forces shot two Syrian soldiers in civilian clothing who had entered the area of separation and were approaching an Israeli fence, killing one and wounding the other. UNDOF intervened, returning the injured soldier and the body to Syria. Syria’s and Israel’s continuous support for the extension of the force’s mandate indicates that both countries know just how much they have to lose from its withdrawal, especially in the current escalation-prone environment. The problem today is that neither party — especially the Syrian government — can ensure the safety and security of the peacekeepers, or control extremist forces on the ground that could harm them.   


Jihadist groups, for the moment, are either unaware of UNDOF or do not currently see fighting it as an urgent priority. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), arguably the strongest extremist group among the rebels, is busy unifying its ranks and consolidating its power in northeast Syria by taking on other radical groups and seizing strategic posts along the Syrian-Turkish border.


But once that process is over, ISIS’ calculations could well change. The group ultimately wants to topple the Syrian regime, and what better way to do that than to draw it into a conflict with Israel? In such a scenario, the jihadists would try to ignite a military confrontation between the two sides in the Golan Heights, likely by attacking Israeli military targets, and hope that it escalates to a wider war. Short of that, if the rebels could simply pressure UNDOF to leave, the chances of a Syrian-Israeli war would shoot up.


It is a much likelier scenario than one might think. The Syrian army is already operating in the buffer zone, in grave violation of the 1974 disengagement agreement between Israeli and Syrian forces. Clashes between the Syrian army and the rebels near the Syrian-Israeli frontier have also resulted in numerous border violations, with several stray shells landing near Israeli communities and military posts, as detailed in a June 12 report [1] by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


The Israeli military has returned fire in several of those instances — also in violation of the agreement — and on March 5, the Israeli mission to the United Nations delivered a stern letter to the Security Council warning that Israel would not continue to tolerate fighting in the demilitarized zone. In this combustible environment, even a limited Israeli military intervention in Syria could spark a larger conflict involving the Iranians and Hezbollah, whose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, publicly said [2] in May that his forces are ready to liberate the Golan Heights. Until now, Hezbollah has refrained from dramatic escalations in response to Israeli airstrikes in Syria, but it may be saving its fire for when the Assad regime is really in trouble. 


Meanwhile, increasingly active Islamist rebels in the area are already making UNDOF’s job nearly impossible. One UNDOF official, Major General Iqbal Singh Singha, told reporters in June that “troops have come under fire, been abducted, hijacked, had weapons snatched and offices vandalized in the region.” As a result of the deteriorating security situation, UNDOF has been forced to suspend night patrols and reduce its operational footprint, thus constraining its ability to monitor the cease-fire line. Apart from jihadist terrorism, UNDOF will also have to deal with criminal activity by opportunistic rebels who desperately need funds and may target UNDOF to extract concessions from the international community.


The March 2013 kidnapping of 21 Filipino peacekeepers caused the biggest shock and scare to UNDOF’s member states. The peacekeepers were seized by an Islamist rebel unit called the Martyrs of Yarmouk Brigade near the border with Jordan and released three days later. The rebels claimed that UNDOF was cooperating with the Syrian regime and demanded that Syrian troops move 12 miles away from the village of Jamla, and that the International Committee of the Red Cross guarantee the safe exit of civilians from the area.


It is not surprising, then, that UNDOF is halfway out the door. Worried about the extremist threat and the safety of their troops, Cambodia, Canada, Japan, Croatia, and Austria have already pulled out of the mission. Before the Syrian uprising, UNDOF employed 2,164 personnel from six countries. Today, there are only 1,166 [3] left (501 from Fiji, 193 from India, 339 from Philippines, 130 from Nepal, and three staff officers from Ireland). Ban recently asked the Security Council to increase the number of troops to 1,250, but such a paltry increase will have little effect; even UNDOF’s pre-uprising size and level of technology were insufficient for it to effectively do its job. As the fighting escalates, the force will likely continue to shrink.  


UNDOF can neither survive in this lawless security environment for long nor effectively fulfill its vital mission. It needs the urgent attention of the international community — something that is understandably but unfortunately focused exclusively on chemical weapons disarmament and reviving the moribund Geneva peace talks. The United States and Russia, along with the other permanent members of the Security Council, need to elevate the profile and mandate of UNDOF and address its operational, logistical, and political challenges.


The United Nations should also create an expert working group that would assess the viability and merits of revising UNDOF’s mandate through a new status-of-forces agreement, overhauling its operational strategy, modernizing its information-gathering capabilities, and, finally, increasing its troop level. The recommendations should be shared with the UN secretary-general, who himself ought to request that the United States, Russia, and other major powers assist in the implementation.    


Even with so many other pressing issues to worry about in Syria, the world cannot afford to neglect UNDOF. Keeping peace on Syria’s borders with Israel and curbing extremism should not be afterthoughts. They should be a major part of the international agenda.


This article originally appeared on Foreign on October 28, 2013 and can be accessed here.



Turkey’s air and missile defense journey continues


By Nilsu Goren – After the United States confirmed that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on 21 August, the Patriot PAC-3 batteries deployed at the Turkish-Syrian border have been on alert status.[1] Turkey requested the deployment of NATO missile defenses after Syria shot down a Turkish RF-4E in June 2012 and a stray artillery shell killed 5 civilians in the border town of Akcakale later that year.


In order to increase its passive defenses against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) attacks across the border, the Turkish government has intensified military exercises and has deployed specialized CBRN teams to the border areas. In spite of these efforts, the Turkish government remains reliant on NATO deployed missile defense systems for protection from ballistic missile attack. Yet, on 26 September, the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) executive committee, which is the national defense procurement agency, announced that the China Precision Machinery Import Export Corporation’s (CPMIEC) HQ-9 (the export version is known as the FD-2000) won Turkey’s five year old tender to purchase a long-range air and missile defense system.[2] Although Turkey has decided to start bilateral negotiations with China, the contract has not been finalized.




Despite the continued missile threat, Ankara’s top priority is the conclusion of an agreement that allows for a co-production and co-licensing arrangement. The procurement strategy suggests that Turkey’s top priority is technology transfer, rather than the rapid acquisition of an “off-the-shelf” system to immediately address Turkey’s security needs. Thus, while Ankara had received bids from American, European, and Russian defense firms, the combination of the systems’ lower price and China’s willingness to coproduce the system in Turkey led to the decision to select the HQ-9.


Yet, for the third time since 1991, Ankara has had to make preparations to defend against a possible WMD attack. In the short term, Turkey should continue to rely on NATO’s Patriot interceptors for security. However, in the long term, Ankara’s selection of a Chinese missile defense system will likely preclude Ankara from taking advantage of NATO’s missile defense architecture.


While Ankara claims that the system will use Aselsan’s Herikks/Skywatcher command and control system, NATO officials have indicated that the system will not be interoperable with the sensors/radars deployed for the Alliance’s missile defense system. Thus, while Turkish HQ-9 operators may be able to see NATO’s complete air picture, they will, in all likelihood, not be able to benefit from the slew of other systems (early warning satellites, forward deployed X-band radars, and Aegis combat ships) that provide cueing information for NATO’s missile defense system.


Recent Developments in Turkey’s Quest for National Air and Missile Defense


Turkey is concerned about the weapons of mass destruction programs and missile launchers in the region and has therefore sought to procure air and missile defense systems, as well as other passive defenses for protection from nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) threats.[3] One of the key elements of the Turkish Armed Forces modernization project is the development of air defense systems with medium to long-range antimissile capabilities. Turkey first began negotiations with Israel for the Arrow missile defense system in 1997, but negotiations broke down after the financial crisis in 2001.


In January 2013, Turkey announced that it was seeking to co-develop a surface-to-air missile (SAM) program and had cancelled the 2009 off-the-shelf long-range air and missile defense system tender.[4] The Turkish Long Range Air and Missile Defense System (T-LORAMIDS) tender bidders included Russia’s Rosoboronexport (S-300 system), China’s Precision Machinery Export Import Corp (CPMIEC), (HQ-9/FD-2000 system), the United States’ Patriot PAC-3, and the Italian-French Eurosam (SAMP/T Aster 30.)[5] In March 2013, Turkey finalized the acquisition model for the missile defense program and announced that it would acquire twelve missile-firing units in a co-development model.[6]


On a separate note, in March 2013, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the U.S. effectively cancelled the fourth phase of the adaptive ballistic missile defense system.[7] The Obama administration initially introduced the new missile defense architecture, known as Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD), at the NATO Lisbon Summit in December 2010. The European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) initially consisted of deployments in four main phases from 2011 to 2025, centered on the sea-based Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor – which would be upgraded in phases – and integrated with land and space-based sensors.


U.S. Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) is the core of the EPAA and the SM-3 interceptors deployed on these surface ships are intended to counter short and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The initial system consists of four Aegis Class cruisers, fifteen Arleigh Burke Class destroyers, land-based SM-3 interceptors that will be deployed in Romania and Poland in 2015 and 2018 respectively, and an X-band radar system in Turkey that became operational in 2012.[8] The U.S. has recently altered phase 4 of the EPAA. The United States therefore will not deploy the SM-3 block II-B, which was expected to be faster and have a more advanced kill vehicle than the version currently deployed.


While Turkey has embraced missile defense as a concept, it has had some problems with the EPAA. Turkey had initially demanded that it play a role in the NATO missile defense command, that it have some control over the ballistic missile defense system, and had asked for a guarantee stating that system would cover all of Turkish territory. As of now, it is unclear whether Turkey’s demands have had an effect on the deployment of the EPAA. In 2013, Lt. Col Jay Janzen, a spokesman at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, said “Decisions regarding the future of NATO’s deployment of Patriots to augment the air defenses of southern Turkey have not yet been made.”[9]


Turkey has therefore continued to push ahead with plans to develop a local missile defense system designed to augment NATO’s missile defense system. In summer 2013, there were reports in the media that senior Turkish procurement officials believed Turkey was leaning toward choosing the Chinese long-range air and missile defense system, as it allowed technology transfer and was economically more feasible.[10] Meanwhile, Turkey’s largest defense company – ASELSAN – is reported to be developing a strategic radar system that will initially contain an illumination component and an indigenous “non-rotating identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system.”[11] The radar is expected to develop into a long-range surveillance and multifunctional radar after 2014 and be used on F-4 jet fighters and air and missile defense systems. The capability to reliably distinguish hostile from friendly aircraft is critical during conflict scenarios. Without the technology to identify and track military aircraft and missiles, no air and missile defense system could function without leading to “friendly-fire” issues.


According to the media reports and the SSM decision to start contract talks with China, the Turkish Defense Ministry has prioritized cost and technology transfer, while the Turkish Air Force has demanded that Turkey pursue the most advanced system the four suppliers can offer. The SSM decision to begin bilateral negotiations with the Chinese HQ-9 contradicts the Air Force’s request for the most advanced system. For instance, Turkey had been negotiating with the U.S. to buy the PAC-4 and PAC-5 systems instead of the outdated PAC-3s, and with the Russian Federation to get the S-400 system instead of the S-300.[12] According to the same source, Russia had indicated that it would decrease the number of batteries by half in order to decrease the costs of the more advanced S-400. Russia claims that instead of eight batteries, they could place a radar system in central Turkey to control four batteries and compensate for the decrease in coverage. Meanwhile, U.S. firms like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin were unwilling to transfer design information to Turkey, whose technological demands are unlikely to be matched.[13] Nevertheless, Ankara has indicated that the United States’ bid had come in third place (behind China and Europe’s MBDA) and Russia had been eliminated. 


Turkey’s Policy Options and Implications


If Turkey finalizes the a deal with China, it is likely that the HQ-9 will not be interoperable with NATO’s missile defense system.[14] Nevertheless, Ankara will continue to benefit from the EPAA. For example, when Turkey and China begin production of the HQ-9, the NATO Alliance will continue to pay for the development of the command and control system for NATO’s ALTBMD system. And Turkey, despite the T-LORAMIDs choice, will still benefit from the continued development of the SM-3 missile defense architecture in Europe.


According to NATO records, 150 million Euros have been spent on theater missile defense, and an additional 850 million Euros will be needed to expand the system in the next decade.[15] These costs are divided between the 28 allies.[16] According to U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Space and Defense Policy Frank Rose, European allies plan to contribute more than $1 billion to develop the missile shield.[17] Currently, Turkey hosts a U.S. early-warning radar system in the southeastern city of Kurecik, Malatya, which is 450 miles away from the Turkish-Iranian border. The radar is exclusively operated by U.S. personnel and has a twin system in the Negev desert in Israel. The U.S. is also building an early warning facility in Qatar.[18]


The Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) is an X-band, high-resolution radar designed for ballistic missile defense that can be “coupled with layered sensors, to give the ballistic missile defense systems a continuous tracking and discrimination capability.”[19] Each radar system costs the United States approximately $200 million.[20] More advanced systems include the Space Tracking and Surveillance System, which is the experimental layer operated by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to generate three-dimensional tracks reported to BMD systems for boosting targets.[21] Former Turkish Minister of Defense Gonul had stated that the NATO missile shield system would bring significant cost reductions for Turkey because the allies share costs.[22] So far, the U.S. has provided the early warning radar and the NATO declarations at the Lisbon Summit have been met, but the future role of Turkey within the missile defense system is undecided and Turkish demands for the command and control of the radar and comprehensive territorial coverage have not been addressed.


Moreover, NATO air and missile systems might pose a conflict for Turkey vis-à-vis regional cooperative security. For instance, Turkey might face retaliatory consequences from Iran for hosting the NATO radar, in case of an Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Ali Hajizadeh, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander, has said  “If Iran wants to dispatch a ballistic missile, no threat will be effective and we declare they should be on alert about their own defense missile shield if they want to shoot down our missiles.” In addition, other Iranian officials have threatened to target the Kurecik radar as a response to Turkish help to Israel.[23] Iran made similar threats, after the deployment of PAC-3 batteries at the Turkey-Syria border. Officials have claimed that the PAC-3 system was meant to protect Israel from Iran, and that it would escalate the conflict further with Syria.[24] While these statements should certainly be taken into account, it must be noted that Turkey has hosted American military facilities since 1952, and has therefore been a potential target for Iranian counter attacks aimed at punishing the United States or Israel for quite some time.


Turkey agreed to host the radar under the condition that no document would directly name Iran as a rogue threat, that the missile shield would cover all of Turkish territory, and that no information would be passed to non-NATO states, i.e. Israel. The X-band radar in Kurecik is intended to detect the launch of a ballistic missile in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East, transfer the information to the U.S. SM-3 interceptors based on Aegis destroyers, which will then try and hit the missile mid-flight.


For robust defense, forward-based large radars in proximity to the origin of the missile are required, as the interceptor launches only 100 seconds after the ballistic missile detection by the sea-based and land-based sensors.[25] Proximity of the city of Malatya to the Iranian border provides an advantage to the NATO system, as the radar is the first chain loop in the system to transfer information to the interceptors. However, due to the trajectory of ballistic missiles and Turkey’s geographical proximity to the region, the existing architecture doesn’t cover Turkey’s Eastern territories.[26] Turkey therefore has a strong incentive to pursue an indigenous system that could be included in NATO’s missile defense architecture.


According to information in the National Academy of Sciences study on ballistic missile defense, Turkey needs to procure Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) or other equivalent systems to defend against shorter-range threats.[27] The SM-3 interceptor engages the target midcourse – at the aperture of the missile’s ballistic flight in space – and in the terminal phase – atmospheric reentry – and therefore cannot engage the missile while it is in eastern Turkey during its ascent phase.[28] ALTBMD cannot address shorter-range missiles originating from Syria or Iran, either, restating the need to protect eastern provinces and the air bases that Turkey and the alliance have in proximity to possible missile launches from the Middle East.


On the other hand, coverage does not mean defense will always be successful. The primary responsibility of intercepting missiles in boost and mid-course phases relies on the sea-based U.S. Aegis destroyers, which relies on the data generated by early-warning radars in proximity to the origin of the missile. The integrated transatlantic architecture also includes a limited number of ground-based interceptors to provide the maximum protection over U.S. and Europe against long-range ballistic missile threats from the Middle East. SM-3s are designed to intercept missiles above the atmosphere, meaning that they are vulnerable to decoys, countermeasures and multiple missile attacks, and they do not address the cruise missile threat. In February 2010, the Obama administration published the “Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report” that indicated that the vast majority of the SM-3 experiments would have failed to destroy warheads.[29]  


In the recent case of Syrian shells causing civilian casualties in border provinces of Turkey, Germany and Netherlands provided the Patriot missiles for protection of the Turkish-Syrian border, but were criticized due to the delays in the arrival of the batteries. The PAC-3, however, does not provide any defense against artillery shells or short-range rockets. Turkey has not announced plans to address these threats.


The cost of the six PAC-3 missile batteries for Turkey was declared as $8.5 million per year, while the total cost for the allies for six batteries would be approximately $18 million.[30] The perceived vulnerability and dependence to NATO in the Syrian case is analogous to the 1991 Gulf War, when Turkey faced Scud threats from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Due to disagreements within NATO over the urgency of the Iraqi threat, there were serious delays with the dispatch of Patriot systems for Turkish use, leading to controversy that Turkey could not rely on NATO for security guarantees and needed to develop its national defense capabilities.[31] Similarly, in 2003, France, Germany, and Belgium had blocked the deployment of NATO equipment to Turkey, including Patriot missile batteries and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance planes, before the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. The three countries were concerned that the defensive measures would lead to a “premature” decision for NATO to be involved in the Iraq crisis.[32]


If Turkish government adopts the Chinese system and finalizes the bilateral contract negotiations with CPMIEC, it would not be able to integrate the full air data into the NATO early warning systems, which would create efficiency problems for the radar systems. For example, if Turkey’s system had been interoperable, the X-band radar in Malatya, working in conjunction with American early warning satellites, would have been able to pick up the missile launch, which would then narrow the window in which the missile battery’s radar would have to “search” for the incoming ballistic missile. And, based on the information, the theater missile defense’s radar would then compute a likely intercept point and fire the interceptor. While the interceptor is in flight, the missile battery’s radar makes adjustments to the missile. Turkey, however, is not likely to have access to this cueing information and will instead only rely on the HQ-9’s radar and other Turkish assets. In turn, this strongly suggests that Turkey chose to forego NATO integration for a co-production arrangement, in order to enhance domestic production capability to reduce dependence.


The possibility of Turkish acquisition of a Chinese system has been questioned on intent by diplomats from NATO countries, as one of them stated that: “Turkey has every right to choose its own air defense system but we do not quite understand the logic of opting for a Chinese system with no interoperability with the existing [NATO] assets.”[33] In addition to not having access to the early warning information, Turkey would not benefit from working with NATO partners for training on tactics and procedures in missile defense operations.[34] Adopting the U.S. Patriot or Europe’s SAMP/T Aster 30 would have resolved this conflict.


Beyond Air and Missile Defense: Turkey’s Ambitions in the Space


As if technical and political repercussions of air and ballistic missile defense are not complicated enough, Turkey plans to carry its offensive, defensive, reconnaissance, surveillance, and early warning resources and capabilities into space within the next ten years.[35] The Turkish Air Force is establishing a Space Group Command, i.e. an aerospace force unit that will specialize in satellite launches, reconnaissance space-based imagery, early warning, satellites, and satellite communications.[36] The early concept design of a proposed satellite launch vehicle (SLV) will be commissioned to ROKETSAN, the national missile manufacturer. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) will develop the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for the Gokturk-3; with support from defense electronics manufacturer ASELSAN and the national science and technology research council TUBITAK, to provide radar imagery for the command and control network.


The space program is intended to achieve interoperability between aerial and space assets. Turkey intends to network its future space-based assets with manned and unmanned systems. Turkey plans to use its recently procured AWACS early-warning planes, as well as unmanned remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs, or more commonly known as drones) to augment Turkey’s imagery and communications, as well as to help cue missile defense interceptors. Turkey is currently developing the unmanned ANKA drone, which will also carry a SAR for imaging. The ambitious national air and space project also includes the country’s first national fighter jet, an advanced unmanned combat aerial vehicles – dubbed the ANKA +A –, and building a missile with a range of 2,500 kilometers.[37]


Turkey plans to invest $100 million to develop an SLV, which it has dubbed the Turkish Satellite Launching System (UFS). There is some speculation that the SLV could be used as a platform for Ankara to develop the proposed 2,500 km ballistic missile.[38] Currently the government has not specified whether or not the proposed 2,500 km missile will be ballistic or cruise. Thus, there is ambiguity over feasibility of the project and its connection to the SLV. Turkey should clear up the confusion and clearly articulate its long-term missile plans.


In 2014, Turkey plans to launch Gokturk 1, an Earth-observation spacecraft developed in cooperation with Italy and France. Ankara then plans to launch three military communication satellites in the next decade and eventually build an early-warning satellite equipped with sensors to detect ballistic missiles.[39] In total, Turkey plans launch sixteen satellites by 2020. Turkey’s satellite program is valued at approximately $2 billion worth of contracts. The Turkish government is expected to invest approximately $100 million for the satellite infrastructure and electronics.[40]


Given the high costs, short timeframe and technological risks involved, the program is overly ambitious. Hence, Turkey is likely to seek defense partnerships to share the burden. For instance, in August 2013, the Brazilian Ministry of Defense announced that Brazil and Turkey would be cooperating in five working groups on naval, aeronautics, space, command and control and cyber defense fields.[41] Within these groups, Turkey will develop technologies with Brazil on launch systems and satellite, military communications through “Software Defined Radio” (SDR.)


As a more technically feasible, politically acceptable, and cost-effective alternative Turkey could increase its influence in NATO. In July 2013, NATO announced the launch of a new combined air and space operations center (CAOC) for southern Europe in the north east of Madrid, at the Torrejon de Ardoz airbase.[42] The new center is expected to generate better control and air picture over the Aegean by abrogating the air headquarters in Izmir (Turkey) and the CAOC-7 in Larisa-Greece, through a less sub-regional solution.[43] EDAM Chairman Sinan Ulgen argues that this development will help Turkey strengthen its air defenses in response to potential ballistic missile attacks from Syria.[44]




Given the high costs, technical limitations, and political repercussions of air and missile defense systems, Turkey should choose to remain integrated into the NATO structure and push for a change in NATO policy to receive an assurance to cover entire Turkish territory by alternative area defense systems such as THAAD. Given the huge financial burden of these systems, consideration of how imminent the missile threats are to Turkey is also a crucial consideration in the procurement decision. Operating in a complex web of security and trade relations in the Middle East, investing in a massive, confrontational defense program would also be detrimental on Turkish cooperative engagement in the region.


Nilsu Goren, a member of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies’ Next Generation Initiative, is a Graduate Fellow at the Center for International and Security Studies (CISSM) at the University of Maryland, College Park. This article was originally published by the Turkish Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM).




[1] “More than 1400 killed in Syrian chemical weapons attack, US says,” The Washington Post, August 30, 2013, at: and “Fuze kalkanina acil kodu,” Sabah, August 24, 2013, in Turkish, at:

[2] Lale Sariibrahimoglu, “Turkey selects Chinese HQ-9 SAM for T-Loramids,” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, September 26, 2013, at:

[3] “Turkey: Defense White Paper 2000,” at:

[4] Lale Sariibrahimoglu and Nicholas de Larrinaga, “Turkey abandons USD4 billion t-Loramids SAM system buy,” January 24, 2013, IHS Jane’s, available at:

[5] Umit Enginsoy, “NATO warns Turkey against buying Chinese, Russian air defense systems,” Hurriyet Daily News, July 25, 2011, at:

[6] Lale Sariibrahimoglu, “Turkey to buy and co-develop T-Loramids SAM,” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, March 21, 2013, at:

[7] “U.S. Cancels Part of Missile Defense that Russia Opposed,” The New York Times, March 16, 2013, available at:

[8] “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense,” Missile Defense Agency at the U.S. Department of Defense, at:

[9] John Vandiver, “Eyes on Syrian border, US troops stand ready to defend Turkey’s skies,” Stars and Stripes, August 24, 2013, at:

[10] Burak Ege Bekdil, “Turkey may adopt Chinese Air Defense System,” Defense News, Jun. 23, 2013, at:

[11] “Turkish defense company ASELSAN to develop strategic naval radar,” The Journal of Turkish Weekly, August 20, 2013, at:

[12] “Kimyasal tehdide karsi yeni savunma sistemi,” Star, August 26, 2013, in Turkish, at:

[13] Aaron Stein, “Turkey Wants Missile Defenses and the Accompanying Design Information,” Nukes of Hazard, November 16, 2012, at:

[14] For the technical specifications of the HQ-9, see Aaron Stein, Can Kasapoglu, Sinan Ulgen, “Turkey Goes Chinese for Missile Defense,” EDAM Discussion Paper Series 2013/12, October 7, 2013, at:

[15] “Ballistic Missile Defense,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, May 20, 2012, Media Backgrounder, at:

[16] Ibid.

[17] Rachel Oswald, “Next Phases of European Missile Shield on Track: DOD,” Global Security Newswire, March 13, 2013, at:

[18] Barbara Opall-Rome, “US Maintains full control of the Turkish-based radar,” Defense News, January 30, 2012, at: and “Qatar Requests AN/FPS-132 Block 5 Early Warning Radar,” Defense Talk, July 31, 2013, at:

[19] Missile Defense Agency, Fact Sheet, July 2011, at:

[20] Sydney J. Freedberg Jr, “Raytheon’s Tippy Two Radar Gets Back in the Budget,” Breaking Defense, March 15, 2013, at:

[21] Missile Defense Agency Fact Sheet, “Space Tracking and Surveillance System,” at:

[22] “Turkey conditionally approves NATO missile shield,” Hurriyet Daily News, October 15, 2010, at:

[23] “Iran says deployment of NATO shield in Turkey ‘inefficient’,” ISNA, September 22, 2011, at:

[24] Joshua Davidovich, “Iran says Patriot batteries in Turkey meant to protect Israel,” The Times of Israel, December 30, 2012, at: “Iran Warns Turkey not to deploy Patriot missiles,” Hurriyet Daily News, November 24, 2012, at:

[25] Defense Science Board Task Force Report on Science and Technology Issues of Intercept Ballistic Missile Defense Feasibility, September 2011, at:

[26] M.K. Kaya, “How much security will NATO’s missile defense shield provide for Turkey?” Turkey Analyst, vol. 5, no.2, January 23, 2012, at:

[27] “Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives (2012)” The National Academies Press, at: 

[28] “A System of Elements,” Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Department of Defense, at:

[29] George N. Lewis and Theodore A. Postol, “A Flawed and Dangerous U.S. Missile Defense Plan,” May 2010, at:

[30] “NATO Patriots to Cost Turkey $8.5 mln annually,” Ria Novosti, February 24, 2013, at: and “Patriot TMD Deployment,” Global Security, at:

[31] Saban Kardas, “Patriot Missile Procurement Option Sparks Controversy in Turkey,” European Dialogue, available at:

[32] “Three countries delay NATO’s decision over Iraq measures,” The New York Times, February 7, 2003, at:

[33] Burak Bekdil, “Ankara’s move to Chinese air systems appals NATO allies,” Hurriyet Daily News, July 3, 2013, at:

[34] Aaron Stein, “Turkey in quandary over missile threat,” Southeastern European Times, 05/07/2011, at:

[35] “Turkey: Defense White Paper 2000,” at:

[36] Burak Ege Bekdil, “Turkey plots path toward space command,” Defense News, April 9, 2013, at:

[37] Burak Ege Bekdil, “Ambitious Turkey seeking to sync national air and space firepower,” Space News, July 1, 2013, at:

[38] Burak Ege Bekdil, “Turkey’s Sat-Launcher Plans Raise Concerns,” Defense News, July 28, 2013, at:

[39] Amy Svitak, “Ankara Plans To Loft 25 Satellites By 2033,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, June 10, 2013, at:

[40] Burak Ege Bekdil, “Turkey’s Sat-Launcher Plans Raise Concerns,” Defense News, July 28, 2013, at:

[41] “Brazil and Turkey Create Groups to Study Defense Development Projects,” Source: Brazil Ministry of Defense; issued Aug. 22, 2013 in Portuguese only, edited unofficial translation by at:

[42] Alakbar Raufoglu, “NATO facility boosts Turkey’s defense,” Southeast European Times, August 26, 2013, at:

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.