May 18 2019

Washington must pull U.S. nuclear weapons out of Turkey – analyst

The United States must quickly reconsider storing nuclear weapons in Turkey and giving Ankara a shared finger on the nuclear trigger under the NATO nuclear sharing programme, wrote Harvey M. Sapolsky, Professor Emeritus at MIT and the former Director of the MIT Security Studies Program, for Defense One website.

The NATO nuclear sharing programme keeps American nuclear bombs in five NATO countries, namely Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey, while training host air forces to use them, Sapolsky highlighted.

As tensions continue to rise between Washington and Ankara over an array of issues, including war-torn Syria and Turkey’s planned purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system, the United States must make changes to current arrangements with its NATO ally, it said.

Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, located 100 miles from the Syrian border, stores 20 to 80 B61 U.S. nuclear weapons for delivery by Turkish or American aircraft, the article highlighted, noting that is time for Washington to bring them home.

"Nuclear sharing began in the 1960s as a way to assure European members of NATO of America’s commitment to their defense, and to ward off any temptation to acquire nuclear weapons of their own,’’ the article highlighted, adding however that decades later much has changed globally.

Nuclear weapons aren’t the temptation they once were for Europeans, it noted, and sharing of the weapons’ delivery would give these countries a direct role in the nuclear enterprise without requiring them to actually build weapons.

Particularly a Turkey that is flirting with Russia and has list of issues with the United States should not be part of  NATO’s nuclear-sharing programme, Sapolsky said, adding that Washington should begin solving this problem by addressing the issue of nuclear weapons at Incirlik.