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One More Wrinkle in Turkey Chaos: 50 US Nukes

Pentagon reportedly rethinking whether it's still safe to keep them there
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2019 11:42 AM CDT
Local residents cheer as Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters drive around the border town of Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, on their way to Tal Abyad, Syria, Monday, Oct. 14,...   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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(Newser) – The military situation near the Turkish border in Syria remains in flux, with allegiances shifting quickly amid uncertainty of how everything will shake out. But the fast-moving developments also have drawn attention to a lesser-known fact of US foreign policy: The Pentagon has about 50 tactical nuclear weapons stored in Turkey at its Incirlik Air Base, reports Business Insider. The big question: Is it still safe to keep them there now that US-Turkey relations are fraying? Related coverage:

  • Under review: Officials in the State and Energy departments have begun "quietly reviewing" plans to evacuate the weapons, reports the New York Times. "Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages," writes David Sanger. "To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago."
  • In vaults: The bombs have been stored in underground vaults at Incirlik since the 1960s, per a backgrounder in the New Yorker. That goes back to the days when Incirlik turned into a crucial Cold War base. The story says the vaults "hold about fifty B-61 hydrogen bombs—more than 25% of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile."

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