Sunday, July 17, 2016

Turkey coup attempt raises fears over safety of US nuclear stockpile

The attempted coup in Turkey on Friday and the subsequent closure of the Incirlik airbase have raised fresh questions about the wisdom of the US stationing the biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons in Europe there.

The potential terrorist threat to the base, 68 miles from the Syrian border, led to a significant upgrade in the security perimeter around the designated Nato area last year. There are an estimated 50 B61 nuclear bombs stored in 21 vaults. Friday’s events have increased concerns over whether any security enhancements can mitigate the risks of holding on to such a dangerous arsenal in the volatile location.

The Turkish government claimed that some of the coup plotters were based at Incirlik and flew aircraft out of the shared base.

 It consequently closed air traffic out of the base and cut off its power supply.

The coup and the involvement of Incirlik raises wider questions about Turkey’s role in Nato.