In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Erdogan noted that Israel is the only player in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons and asked, “Why is it that countries banning Iran from having nuclear weapons don’t also ban Israel from having nuclear weapons?”
Turkey downgraded ties with Israel after Tel Aviv refused to apologize for its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which left nine Turkish citizens dead on May 31, 2010.
Earlier in September, the Turkish Economy Minister said Ankara would continue its “normal” economic ties with Tel Aviv. From January 2011 to July 2011, trade between Turkey and Israel reached $2.3 billion.
Erdogan also commented on Turkey’s decision to host one component of a missile shield system, calling it a “NATO concept.”
He advised against “different interpretations” of Turkey’s decision and urged everyone to look at “what is actually the reality” in the issue.
But Turkey’s move was still censured in some circles, with Iran describing it as “a cause for concern” and “questionable.” Russia criticized Turkey for collaborating with NATO.
Turkey could earn as much as $4 billion from the missile shield system. It has been reported that a Turkish defense company is holding negotiations on a $2 billion contract in connection with the project.