Are Nuclear Weapons Safe In Turkey?

And Other Links

After a great deal of back and forth on Twitter on the subject of the danger of the coup to the US nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik Air Base, I wrote up the barriers intruders would face. A short extract, more at War On The Rocks. Top photo from here.

Some tens of American nuclear weapons are stored at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey as part of Turkey’s NATO obligation. The base is operated by the Turkish Air Force. U.S. Air Force units are stationed there and have recently been carrying out airstrikes in Syria. American nuclear weapons are also stored at bases in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. The presence of nuclear weapons at these bases is a carryover from the Cold War, but they also are symbolic of NATO’s defense of Europe, a concern revived by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine.

As the coup broke out and was eventually suppressed, concerns popped up on social media about the surety of U.S. nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik Air Base, especially when electricity was cut off to the base. There were two concerns: First, that coup plotters or another malign actor would take advantage of the confusion to steal these nuclear weapons. Second, that forces loyal to the Turkish government, portions of which initially blamed the coup attempt on the United States, would overrun the portions of Incirlik Air Base where the nuclear weapons are stored and turn Turkey into an angry, nuclear-armed state overnight.

Aaron Stein puts what we know of the coup into a narrative. Very helpful.

Jeffrey Lewis argues that the nuclear weapons should be removed from Turkey. And Kori Schake provides the counterpoint that they should stay.


At the same time this was happening, AP claimed that they had another secret side agreement to Iran’s nuclear agreement. This document turned out to be even less than last year’s secret document. As was the case last year, what the AP url links to is constantly changing, so I have no idea what you will see when you click. It has been reasonably stable for the past 24 hours. A State Department spokesman refuted the idea that the document was anything but part of the nuclear agreement and pointed out that its contents were known to participants in the agreement. Perhaps I am being too suspicious, but I will note that AP’s discovery of this document occurred just in time for it to be used at the Republican Convention. But that doesn’t seem to be happening.