U.S. Reviewing Options For Pulling Nuclear Bombs Out Of Turkey, Here’s How They Might Do It
The rapidly evolving crisis in Syria may prompt the U.S. to finally remove its nuclear stockpile from Turkey, a move that some say is long overdue.
The U.S. government is reportedly examining multiple plans for how it might remove approximately 50 B61 nuclear gravity bombs it keeps in ready storage at the American-operated portion of Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base. This comes a week after Turkey launched an operation into northern Syria targeting the primarily Kurdish U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF. This intervention has precipitated an all-new crisis in the region, prompted the start of at least a tactical withdrawal of U.S. forces from much of the country amid concerns they could be caught in the fighting, and led to calls for an arms embargo and major sanctions on the Turkish government.
The New York Times was the first to report that officials from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Energy, the latter of which oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, were reviewing what to do about the B61s at Incirlik. These bombs have been a particularly serious security concern, as the War Zone has highlighted in the past, after U.S.-Turkish relations began to chill following an attempted coup against Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. There continue to be completely unfounded conspiracy theories that the U.S. military was directly involved in the abortive putsch, which did involve Turkish Air Force units at Incirlik. There have been calls in Turkey since then for investigations into American military personnel and raids onto the American portions of the base to collect evidence, which you can read about more in this past War Zone piece.