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Should The US Remove Its Nuclear Bombs From Turkey?

Experts say US nuclear bombs in Turkey have no military value and pose unnecessary risks. Why are they still there?

– 16 August 2016

DEUTSCHE WELLE — In the wake of the failed July 15 coup in Turkey, there is renewed debate over the security of some 50 US nuclear bombs stored at Incirlik airbase.

The Stimson Center, a Washington DC think tank, said in a report on Monday that the continued presence of nuclear weapons at Incirlik “raises serious risks of their seizure by terrorists and other hostile forces.”

“Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question,” the report said.

Located only 70 miles (110 kilometers) from war-torn Syria, Incirlik is a major logistic hub for US military operations around the globe and a base for the US-led coalition against the “Islamic State” to conduct airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

During the coup, US flights in and out of the base were temporarily halted. Afterwards, several top Turkish commanders at the base were arrested for their alleged role in the plot and power to the base was cut off for nearly a week.

And as some in Turkey blame the United States for playing a role in the coup, periodic anti-American protests have erupted around the base calling for its closure. Citing security concerns about terrorism, the Pentagon earlier this year evacuated the dependents of US service members from the base.

A volatile situation

Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told DW that political instability and the overall security situation in Turkey were reasons enough for the US to pull its nuclear weapons out.

“There is no other country in Europe where the US stores nuclear weapons where a military coup just happened and you have something that looks almost like a civil war with violent explosions and killings, and in addition to that you are less than 100 miles from the border of a completely war-torn country, Syria,” he said.

“Those are security and political conditions that are completely out of sync with what you normally require for having nuclear weapons deployed,” he added. []

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