In New York, PM Erdogan warns against attack on Iran
At a weekend press conference in New York after attending the UN General Assembly and a G-20 summit hosted by US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a military strike at Iran would be a grave mistake and an act of insanity which would harm not only the attackers but also the region and the entire world, adding that new sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program must be considered with caution. Saying that limiting the nuclear debate to Iran's program is not fair, Erdogan added, "We are absolutely against nuclear weapons in the Middle East. There is currently a country in the Middle East which has nuclear weapons," referring to Israel, widely considered an undeclared nuclear power. "Israel is not a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while Iran is. Moreover, phosphorus bombs were used in Gaza. What is this? A weapon of mass destruction," Erdogan said, referring to the Israeli offensive in Gaza last December which left more than 1,300 people dead. "These issues are never brought to the table, and this personally disturbs me as a person who is in an office that carries with it responsibility," he added. "That is to say, we need to be fairer. We have to act honestly if we want global peace." Erdogan said Turkey, a NATO member with improving ties with Tehran, was instrumental in arranging Thursday's talks between six world powers and Iran, and is ready to do more if its help is requested, adding that he would discuss Iran's controversial nuclear program with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in Tehran next month. "New sanctions won't bring anything good to the people of Iran. So I think we have to be careful," Erdogan said. Asked if Turkey would support fresh UN Security Council action against Iran, he said, "Without seeing what would be in the resolution, it's difficult to say. We would look at the text and we would make our contribution and then we make a decision." Turkey currently holds a temporary seat on the council. He stated that any attempt to impose sanctions on Tehran's gas industry – which has the world's second-largest natural gas reserves – would be especially problematic for Turkey, and added that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was expected to visit Iran this Thursday, the same day an Iranian delegation meets the five permanent Security Council members and Germany for talks on its nuclear program in Geneva. Erdogan said he would like Iranian gas to flow through the Nabucco pipeline. "Sanctioning Iranian natural gas would mean that Nabucco will come to a dead end," he said. Asked about the possibility of military action against Iran, Erdogan said, "That would be very wrong and not only those who attempt such insanity would suffer." He said the process in Iraq must be a lesson, pointing to the turmoil in the country since the 2003 US-led invasion. Erdogan also said that Turkey would push the Security Council to discuss a report by UN investigators accusing Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes in Gaza. "We will definitely take the position to discuss this issue on the Security Council," he said, adding that anyone guilty of war crimes in Gaza should be held accountable by the council. "We're in favor of opening discussions on the UN report on war crimes in Gaza, and whoever is a guilty party, they should be identified and face the necessary sanctions," he said. Erdogan also touched on Turkey's rising strategic importance on the global stage, citing the larger number of resident foreign journalists in Turkey in recent years as proof of this, from only 35 to 265 since around 2000. Erdogan added that people around the world want to learn more about Turkey.