Investigation into a new type of bomb used by the Turkish army against Kurdish targets in northern Iraq since August has showed that they are only found in the NATO inventory, Murat Karayılan, the co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) said on Sunday.
The PKK’s top commander said that the Turkish army, which in February 2021 launched a new military offensive against PKK positions in the mountainous Gara (Garê), a region in northern Iraq close to the Syrian border, has shifted tactics due to the resistance of Kurdish forces.
Karayılan said that the Turkish forces have started using a new kind of bomb to destroy the tunnels used by Kurdish fighters.
“We ran several investigations about the features of this bomb. It is understood that it is a weapon of the type ‘tactical nuclear bomb’, in other words one that limits the effect of the bomb by moderating the nuclear material used,” the PKK commander said.
“It is known that such bombs were handed to some NATO member countries before and Turkey is among them,” Karayılan said, adding that whether or not Turkey has NATO’s permission to use such weapons is unclear.
Tactical nuclear bombs have also been on the international agenda in recent days, after the Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to turn to nuclear weapons in relation to the retreat of the Russian forces in Ukraine in September.
Some 1,900 of Russia’s 4,477 deployed and reserve nuclear warheads are tactical nuclear weapons, according to the estimates of the Federation of American Scientists. On the other hand, the United States has 200 tactical nuclear weapons, 100 of which are deployed in five European countries, including Turkey.
Turkey is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and does not have its own nuclear weapons capacity.
Tactical nuclear weapons or non-strategic nuclear weapons are designed to be used on a battlefield mostly when friendly forces are in proximity. Such weapons, which are not governed by international treaties, have lower explosive yields and shorter-range delivery vehicles.
Karayılan’s claims about Turkey using tactical nuclear bombs might sound far-fetched for those working on the security sector.
Yet, there is better documented evidence about Turkey’s use of chemical weapons in Iraqi Kurdistan, including reports of an incident in Gara in February 2021, but the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has made no move to launch an investigation into such allegations despite several applications to them to do so.
Kurdish activists have been continuously organising demonstrations to protest against the indifference of the OPCW to such claims.