U.S. Nukes at Turkey Base Risk Seizure By "Terrorists", Warns Think Tank

A Washington think tank raises concerns that U.S. nuclear weapons stored at a military base in Turkey can fall into the wrong hands.

A Washington think tank raised alarms in a new report that 50 American nuclear weapons stored at a Turkish base are at risk of falling into the hands of "terrorists or other hostile forces".

The Stimson Center's report comes on the heels of a recent military coup in Turkey which almost saw its President Erdoğan ousted. The coup illustrated the volatile situation inside Turkey and the possibility that terrorists could use the instability to their advantage.

“Whether the U.S. could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question", warns the Stimson Center.

The base in question is the Incirlik base in southern Turkey, which is located 70 miles from the northern border of Syria, a country ravaged by 6 years of a civil war which has been causing major international repercussions. Washington uses the bases to conduct airstrikes against ISIS and to store 50 nuclear bombs, as a symbol of its commitment to its NATO alliance, which includes Turkey, and as a deterrent to Russia.

Notably, the base's Turkish commander was arrested for possible participation in the coup attempt.

Lacie Heeley from the Stimson Center elaborated to the AFP news agency that:

“From a security point of view, it's a roll of the dice to continue to have approximately 50 of America's nuclear weapons stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. There are significant safeguards in place. But safeguards are just that, they don't eliminate risk. In the event of a coup, we can't say for certain that we would have been able to maintain control.”

The report also called for specifically removing the B61 gravity bomb from Europe, with Turkey being one of the locations where it's believed to be housed.

Last week, Steve Andreasen, former White House director for defense policy and arms control, also wrote a concerned opinion piece in Los Angeles Times, stating that:

"While we've avoided disaster so far, we have ample evidence that the security of US nuclear weapons stored in Turkey can change literally overnight."

The Department of Defense did say that they have taken appropriate security measures to prevent dangerous groups from taking control of the weapons, although they refused to confirm the location of the weapons. It's against their policy to "discuss the location of strategic assets."

In their support, Kori Schake, a fellow at the public policy think tank Hoover Institution, noted in the New York Times that:

"American nuclear forces cannot be used without codes, making the weapons impossible to set off without authorization. The fact that nuclear weapons are stationed in Turkey does not make them vulnerable to capture and use, even if the country were to turn hostile to the United States."

You can read the report from the Stimson Center here.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less