The recent coup attempt in Turkey raises a number of highly troubling questions, not least of which regarding the ongoing security situation surrounding 50-some US B61 nuclear gravity bombs held at Incirlik Air Base.
I have written on this website time, and time, and time again that basing US theatre nuclear weapons in Europe is wrong on many levels, and that the American government should unilaterally withdraw those weapons to home soil.
The current situation of domestic unrest in Turkey, combined with a civil war in Syria only 68 miles from Incirlik, as well as the ongoing security situation within Turkey between the government and Kurdish separatists, makes the ability of US and Turkish officials to guarantee the security of the B61s effectively nil.
There can be no debate on the importance of nuclear security – summit meetings have been held on the topic over the past decade, and all participants agree that as long as nuclear weapons exist, they must be maintained as securely as possible.
The current situation in Turkey no longer allows for nuclear security to be provided on even a highly contingent basis.
Therefore, US B61 nuclear weapons in Turkey must go home – NOW.
This article represents the views of the author.
Ted Seay served at the US Mission to NATO as arms control advisor from 2008 to 2011. Before that, Seay was seconded to the Secretariat of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies in Vienna from 2005 to 2008.
More information about the B61 nuclear weapons can be found on our factsheet here.