Monday, October 10, 2011

Israel a 'threat' to region because has atomic bomb: Turkey

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday branded Israel as a "threat" to its region, accusing it of owning nuclear weapons, in a defence of Palestinians.

"I right now see Israel as a threat for its region, because it has the atomic bomb," Erdogan said in a foreign policy speech during an official visit to South Africa.

Israel has never officially admitting to possessing nuclear weapons, but is widely believed to be the only Middle East country to have them. Others including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya are suspected of trying, or having tried in the past, to follow suit.

Turkey downgraded relations with one-time ally Israel after the latter refused to apologise for its raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists died on May 31, 2010.

Last month, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and froze military ties and defence trade deals. Ankara has also threatened to send warships to escort any Turkish vessels trying to reach Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Erdogan's remarks came in response to comments from an Israeli embassy diplomat in South Africa, who blamed radical Islamic organisation Hamas for launching rocket attacks into Israeli territory.

"I have asked many Israeli officials, how many Israelis, have been killed by rockets launched from Gaza and Palestine. I could not get an answer," Erdogan said. more