One risk of U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in NATO countries is that security may fail and bombs could fall into unknown hands.
During the recent coup attempt in Turkey, Turkish forces surrounded the U.S. Air Force base at Incirlik (where several dozen Cold War era B-61 gravity bombs are vaulted), cut off electrical power, and temporarily closed the air space around the base as they repelled the coup attempt.
“General Bekir Ercan Van, the commander of Turkey’s Incirlik airbase, which is used both by the Turkish Air Force and NATO forces, has been detained by Turkish authorities accused of complicity in the attempted coup,” according to RT News and covered by the Wall Street Journal (Paywall). “The senior Turkish military commander was arrested along with over a dozen lower ranking officers at the base. A government official has confirmed that the general has been detained.”
The bombs were secured… this time.
Is the risk of nuclear weapons deployment worth the reward? It isn’t.
During a recent heavy rain storm, water got into our basement where a box of political memorabilia was dampened. I spread the contents on the living room floor to dry, and while putting them away found half a dozen responses from U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley during my advocacy to ratify the New START Treaty with Russia signed April 8, 2010.
Grassley responded in a formulaic manner, indicating staff had written the response. In his last letter before the Senate vote, which I believe Grassley wrote, he acknowledged my advocacy and said simply he disagreed. New START was ratified without Senator Grassley’s vote.
While the existence of nuclear weapons and their deployment is said to be an apolitical defense strategy, it isn’t. As long as U.S. nuclear weapons exist and are deployed, there is a risk of a security failure after which they could fall into the wrong hands. I’m not the first to say nuclear weapons serve no practical purpose and can never be used.
If you want to learn more about what happened during the Turkish coup and what it means, here are some links to articles about it.
The H-Bombs in Turkey by Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control, The New Yorker, News Desk July 17.
Should the U.S. Pull Its Nuclear Weapons From Turkey? by Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. and Kori Schake, fellow at the Hoover Institution, July 20, The New York Times.
U.S. planes grounded at key Turkish air base in fight against ISIS after coup attempt by Dan Lamothe, National security writer for The Washington Post, The Washington Post, July 16.
Turkey Arrests Incirlik Air Base Commander by Julian E. Barnes, he covers the Department of Defense and national security issues from The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal, July 17 (Paywall).
The Coup and the Crackdown: Turkey and American Foreign Policy by Trevor Hill, senior fellow for the Cato Institute’s Defense and Foreign Policy Department, CATO at Liberty, July 18.
The U.S. stores nuclear weapons in Turkey. Is that such a good idea? by Dan Lamothe, National security writer for The Washington Post, July 19, The Washington Post.
How safe are US nukes in Turkey? by Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne, CNN, July 19.