Saturday, April 22, 2006

Turkish Dailies: U.S. Seeks Use of Bases for Duration of Iran Crisis

World Tribune:
Turkish sources said the Defense Department has discussed U.S. military access to several bases in Turkey. They said they included air and naval bases that spanned an area from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. "The request was for temporary access and connected to the crisis with Iran," a Turkish source said.

On April 17, the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reported that the United States has sought to establish a presence in three naval bases in Turkey. The newspaper said the United States demanded access to bases located along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, Middle East Newsline reported.

Turkey's government denied the report. The U.S. embassy in Ankara said the story had "no factual basis." READ MORE

Another Turkish daily, Aksam, said the United States has proposed the construction of an air base near the Iranian border. Aksam said Ankara has already expropriated land near the Iranian-Turkish border for what was said to be an airport.

The sources said the United States has submitted a range of proposals for closer military cooperation with Ankara. They said the Pentagon has sought to increase the U.S. military presence in Turkey to facilitate reconnaissance and logistics for any air strike against nuclear facilities in Iran.

Iran has warned Turkey not to cooperate with the United States.

On April 17, the leader of the Iranian Hizbullah threatened suicide strikes against Turkey.

"You should have no doubt that we will attack you as well if the United States uses bases in Turkey, receives support from Turkey," Iranian Hizbullah chief Mohammed Bager Kharrazi told Turkish NTV television. "We will retaliate against all of those who support our attacker."

On Thursday, the U.S. intelligence community played down Iran's capability to produce nuclear fuel. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said Teheran still remains years away from producing a sufficient amount of enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon.

"Our assessment at the moment is that even though we believe that Iran is determined to acquire or obtain a nuclear weapon, that we believe that it is still a number of years off before they are likely to have enough fissile material to assemble into, or to put into a nuclear weapon; perhaps into the next decade," Negroponte said. "So I think it's important that this issue be kept in perspective."