Turkey has the capacity the conduct its own inquiries and will not allow any outside body to carry out investigations into the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Turkish Armed Forces in military operations in northern Iraq, the Turkish Minister of Defence said on Saturday.
Minister Hulusi Akar responded to questions over allegations on chemical weapons use asked in parliament by a deputy of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The allegations have been on the international agenda since mid-October, following the release a video by the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Chemical weapons and ammunition are not developed, produced, stocked, or used in the Turkish Armed Forces,” Akar said during debates in parliament on the 2023 budget.
Akar called the allegations ungrounded and ruled out the possibility of an investigation that could be carried out by a respected international institution, such as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
“We, as the Turkish Armed Forces, as the state of the Republic of Turkey, are a sovereign independent state, we have the capacity to control ourselves, to evaluate ourselves, and we do not accept anyone from outside,” he said.
Akar also told the parliament that Ankara sent a delegation to northern Iraq on 24 November to investigate the allegations.
“We are announcing it for the first time in here, on November 24 we established a delegation, the delegation went there, conducted analysis and measurements, they gathered and collected all of them, submitted them here to the laboratories of the Ministry of Health, we now have in our hands the reports that says none of those are chemicals,” Akar said.
As he did in the past, Akar admitted that the military used tear gas during a hostage saving operation last year. Though some experts see the use of tear gas as a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Akar claimed that it could be used in law enforcement or special operations to protect human life.
According to an expert doctor, Abbas Mansouran, although Akar’s words on tear gas usage are sufficient to initiate an international investigation according to international law, all the evidence indicates that Turkey used toxic gas, which is much more powerful and deadly than tear gas.
Human rights advocates worldwide have for weeks urged international organisations to take action over the allegations regarding Turkey’s use of chemical weapons in operations against Kurdish armed groups in neighbouring countries, however, only a member state can initiate an inquiry under the authority of the OPCW.