Footage emerged on Saturday revealing a Turkish military attack on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas in northern Iraq, reportedly involving the utilisation of a tactical nuclear bomb, a weapon found within the inventory of NATO member countries but requiring exclusive approval from the organisation for usage, according to the ANF news agency.
The footage, captured by local residents and guerrilla fighters, provides a vivid depiction of the aftermath of the Turkish assault on 13 July. The People’s Defence Forces (HPG) Press Centre issued a statement on 14 July, claiming the use of tactical nuclear bombs by the Turkish army.
HPG Commander Murat Karayılan, in an interview with ANF on 12 July, asserted that the guerrilla positions in northern Iraq had been relentlessly targeted for approximately two and a half years, with a variety of chemical substances and weapons employed. Notably, these attacks intensified following the recent NATO summit, as stated by Karayılan.
Tactical nuclear weapons, also known as non-strategic nuclear weapons, are designed for use on the battlefield, particularly when friendly forces are in close proximity. These weapons, which are not governed by international treaties, possess lower explosive yields and shorter-range delivery vehicles.
While the Geneva Conventions prohibit any direct or indirect control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, there is currently no specific treaty in force that effectively prohibits their use. The International Court of Justice has acknowledged that using nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the principles of international humanitarian law. However, the Court has been unable to definitively determine whether such use would be unlawful in “extreme circumstances where survival of a state is at stake.”
The claim that Turkey has employed internationally banned chemical weapons in its cross-border operations against PKK fighters is not unprecedented. In 2022, Karayılan previously alleged that Turkish forces had deployed tactical nuclear bombs in northern Iraq.
In December 2022, the HPG issued a statement indicating that 11 Kurdish fighters had lost their lives due to the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army.
While Karayılan’s claims regarding Turkey’s use of tactical nuclear bombs may seem far-fetched, Dr. Peppe Savary, Chairman of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Switzerland, informed the Mezopotamya Agency that there is sufficient evidence to support Turkey’s use of chemicals in its cross-border operations.
Kurdish activists have been continuously organising demonstrations to protest the perceived indifference of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding such allegations.