Whether the US remains in Incirlik or not is actually a moot point, since the profound symbolism around what’s unfolding is much more substantial than the Pentagon’s physical presence there. Never before in history has the US been cut off from its own nuclear weapons, which is essentially what’s happened with the no-fly zone and power shutoff to Incirlik.
Erdogan is trying to convey in the most memorable and impactful way possible… that he will not tolerate having the facility used against him for actively aiding and sheltering coup plotters.
Via the Eurasia Journal
Update: July 23
How a stockpile of America’s nuclear weapons got tangled up in a Middle East crisis
Via the Los Angeles Times: The base was an operational center of the attempted coup
Security remains at the highest level, FPCON Delta. Electrical power was restored only Friday after a week-long blackout… The weapons are located in underground vaults in a mile-long special security zone at the base, protected by an elite Air Force guard unit with attack dogs. The nearly 12-foot-long weapons have devices that are supposed to prevent an unauthorized detonation, but experts are sharply divided on the effectiveness of those controls.
July 20: On Removal of Nuclear Weapons from Turkey
Via the New York Times: The Debate after the Coup:
Yes, It’s Time for the Nukes to be Removed
No, Keep the US Nukes in Turkey
Next Steps on Eurasian Geo-political Chessboard
It is no secret that the Turkish Incirlik base has approx 50 ‘usable’ B61 nuclear weapons
- Reports: US nuclear ‘upgrades’ in Europe, FAS/Deutsche Welle, 23.09.2015
The Frankfurter Rundschau (FR) said the B61 nuclear bomb – first devised in the 1960s – had been “modernized” so it could be set to explode at various strengths of up to ten-times the devastation inflicted at Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.
It also has the capability to be steered toward a target placed it between short-range “tactical” and long-range “strategic” atomic weapons, the FR said. “It now comes down to the range of the carrier aircraft.”
Federation of American Scientists’ researcher Hans M. Kristensen said commercially available aerial photos showed new perimeter construction works around 21 aircraft shelter-vault complexes at Incirlik, where the perimeter had double fencing and intrusion detection equipment. Special weapons maintenance trucks were also being replaced and upgraded, he said.
Incirlik, close to war-torn Syria, has been used in recent months for US-led airstrikes on jihadist IS militants in Syria.
Those activities have coincided with a Russian military buildup via Tartus, a Soviet-era naval base in Syria’s coastal Mediterranean region of Latakia.
50 US nuclear weapons
Kristensen estimated that Incirlik’s vaults currently held 50 B61 nuclear weapons.
Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan has told the U.S. cable TV station CNN that he escaped death by only a few minutes before coup plotters stormed the resort in southwest Turkey where he was vacationing last weekend.
Erdogan’s interview was broadcast late Monday. He told CNN that soldiers supporting the coup killed two of his bodyguards when they stormed the resort early Saturday.
“Had I stayed 10, 15 additional minutes, I would have been killed or I would have been taken,” he told CNN through a translator provided by the presidency…