US Nuclear Bombs In Turkey At Risk Of "Seizure By Terrorists Or Other Hostile Forces"

Tyler Durden's picture

In early August, we reported that in the latest effort to spend the US defense budget the Pentagon was preparing to upgrade the US nuclear bomb arsenal, at a cost that had been estimated to range between $355 billion an up to $1 trillion. On Monday, a US-based think tank, The Stimson Center, responded to this proposal when it released a report titled "B61 Life Extension Program: Costs and Policy Considerations" which slammed the planned upgrades to the U.S. tactical nuclear bomb program as an “egregious” waste of money and said deployment overseas is risky.

The report added that Washington could make Europe safer by withdrawing the nuclear bombs from bases in foreign nations, particularly envisioning recent events in Turkey and specifically the 50 or more US B61 nuclear bombs held at Incirlik air base. As a reminder, in the aftermath of the July 15 failed coup, Turkish authorities blocked the Incirlik base off completely, cutting the facility’s electric power and prohibiting any aircraft from flying in or out of the airfield.


“The continued presence of these weapons at five sites in Europe, particularly in Turkey, raises serious risks of their seizure by terrorists or other hostile forces,” the report said. The bombs are designated as tactical weapons, dropped from small, short-range aircraft. The report calls them all but obsolete given the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrence.

“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, just 70 miles from the Syrian border,” said report co-author Laicie Heeley. “These weapons have zero utility on the European battlefield and today are more of a liability than asset to our NATO allies,” said Heeley, a fellow with the Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program at the Stimson Center.

Around 50 of the bombs are stored at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, less than 110 km from the Syrian border. Security there is dependent on conditions in Turkey, which in recent weeks has turned increasingly belligerent toward the US. 

The US brought tactical nuclear bombs to Europe and Turkey in 1950s and 1960s, allegedly to deal with Soviet tank armies that it was feared would pour onto the European battlefield in the event of World War III. Most of the American nuclear arsenals were retracted from Europe in the early 1990s after the fall of the USSR, yet an estimated 180 obsolete nuclear B61 drop bombs are still stored at six European air bases in NATO member states Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Turkey. 

The development of modern missile air defenses have nullified the A-bomb’s potential, as no bomber would be allowed to approach, let alone fly over, enemy territory.

Still, the US National Nuclear Security Administration plans to spend $US8 billion to extend service of an estimated 480 out of a total 800 B61 bombs the US still has in stock, the report says. These expenditures are planned within the framework of a 30-year, $1-trillion program, as Washington intends to modernize the American nuclear triad.

“These bombs are ill-suited for modern warfare and incredibly costly,” said Stimson Center co-founder and report co-author Barry Blechman.

Washington is believed to keep bombs in Turkey to show its commitment to the NATO member and as a deterrent to Moscow, which chipped away at Turkish territory in a series of wars until the early 20th century. Another 130 or so B61 bombs are kept at bases in Belgium, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

The report suggests the “immediate removal” of all B61 nuclear weapons from Europe and discontinuation of the procurement of B61s. In this way the Pentagon would save over $6 billion which could be used to bolster the US military presence in Europe. “The smart move would be to remove these weapons from Europe and double down to strengthen conventional forces that actually protect our NATO allies,” Blechman proposed.

* * *

Some analysts call the continued presence of nuclear bombs an important guarantee if only as a symbolic form of deterrence.  “U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, of which there is now only the B61 left in service, serve a crucial coupling function that links regional security crises to the possibility of nuclear escalation,” said Stephan Fruehling of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at Australian National University.

“As such, the viability of the B61 capability is just as essential to East Asian allies as it is to NATO,” he said.

Others disagree: “Their military utility remains questionable. Their political value is suspect. Their economic costs are high,” said Ramesh Thakur of the Centre for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament at the Australian National University.

“U.S. nuclear rivals will react with force modernization plans of their own, and they might become a little bit more reluctant to cooperate in reining in North Korea’s nuclear program,” he added.

Turkey’s coup attempt has stoked debate in the U.S. about Incirlik. In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times last week, a former U.S. National Security Council arms control chief likened the situation to that before the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in Tehran. In his article published on August 11, the former Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control on the White House National Security Council, Steve Andreasen, wrote that the B61 tactical nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik have become a hot potato rather than geopolitical argument.

“What if the Turkish base commander at Incirlik had ordered his troops surrounding the perimeter of the base to turn their guns on the US soldiers that reportedly guard US nuclear storage bunkers there?” said the former top White House arms control official. The ex-White House weapons chief suggested other hair-raising scenarios involving the Incirlik nuclear arsenal.

“As was the case in 1979, the warning bells are ringing,” Steve Andreasen wrote.

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Jim Sampson's picture
US Nuclear Bombs In Turkey At Risk Of "Seizure By Terrorists Or Other Hostile Forces"



US Nuclear Bombs In Turkey Handed To Terrorists Or Other Hostile Forces.


Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Live by sword, die by sword. Build a nuke, you are risk of die by nuke.

Here2Go's picture

I'd put Dr. Christmas Jones in there to dismantle the warheads before they explode.

ThanksChump's picture

Whoever decided to put those nukes in Turkey needs to spend the remainder of their life in PMITA Club Fed. And that includes president Zero.

Chuck Norris's picture

Bombs away!

John Mccain's gonna be humping Obama's leg over this one

techpriest's picture

Who wants to put a dollar on this being part of the propaganda campaign to invade Turkey?

azusgm's picture

If we were to invade Turkey, we'd be facing the Russians and maybe the Iranians too.

knukles's picture

Moar shit for the Free Nuke Army (FSA's Arab counterpart.   You know the ones who HAVE integrated into society so well, that serves as a template for every other illegal group to integrate ever so well ....  The Deomodcartic Establishment Wing of the One Big Party's designed for a NWO to eradicate Western Culture.  Whatever.)

dark fiber's picture

So I suppose that if you don't build a nuke you have zero risk of dying by one right? 

knukles's picture

If you like your alpha and gamma rays, you can keep your alpha and gamma rays

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

"There is a signal recognition system in the weapon that responds only to a single, very specific, complex signal. This signal is produced by the unique signal generator (which is actually outside the weapon). A more recent approach has been to replace the unique (analog) signal approach with digital communinications and codes."

HenryHall's picture

Yeah, Ohm's law no longer applies if you modify the circuit and void the warranty.

ToSoft4Truth's picture

What's wrong with Gamma Rays?


'Doc Bruce Banner,
Belted by gamma rays,
Turned into the Hulk...'

Boxed Merlot's picture

zero risk of getting nuked in Berkeley...


It's always amused me with element 97, Berkelium and element 103, Lawrencium being made unlawful to make a presence in the physical location responsible for their being included in the now known identifiable universe of matter.


But it looks good on you.


Hey, and if you're that serious about it, why don't you name the stuff "Stanfordium"?


yeah, didn't think so.

Jim in MN's picture

Stalinium, that's got a ring to it.

Putinium, hmm, maybe......

YHC-FTSE's picture

We've done countless assessments on MAD nuclear deterrence since the 50's, especially while I was growing up in the 80's. If you don't build a nuke you have nearly zero risk of dying by one during a first strike scenario beause all of the arsenals will be aimed at the adversary's nuclear launch capabilities - delivery systems & command structures that can retaliate quickly. These are called "High Alert Nukes" which are either first strike or "Launch on Warning". There are approx 2581 warheads that are ready to go within 15 minutes shared between Russia and the US with a few hundred in France, UK and China. Approx another 2000 in reserve can be launched with some time & preparation. Reserve nukes are key because they are both flexible first strike arsenals and their targets, so if for instance a country starts to upgrade its reserves and deploys them, it is probably preparing to launch a preemptive first strike. The US is the only nation to have upgraded its reserves in the last decade, deploying them outside the continental US.

Since all game theory on MAD concluded that limited nuclear exchanges are losing strategies by allowing the adversary to launch an all-out retalitory strike in return, a nuclear war will be first strike, all-out affair using all the arsenals available.

Projections vary on survivability of such an event, but it would most likely end with heavy fallout, decades of nuclear winter, unattended nuclear power stations going into meltdown and the extinction of most of the complex lifeforms on the surface.

steelhead23's picture

Boy, that just brightened my day.  You make it clear that the best defense from nuclear attack is nuclear disarmament, then demonstrate that the U.S. is headed in the opposite direction.  

Jethro Dull's picture

Maybe maybe not. Guard that genie well for it's already out of the bottle.

You can live without the sword and die by the sword as well.

Anti-kleptocrat's picture

... there are procedures to destroy them if the cache is overrun ... the only reason for them to be captured is if this administration wants it to happen ... 

RattieNomNom's picture

send them to UN headquarters... ballistically...

Kohiba's picture

If they really didn't want them in the hands of "terrorists" they'd probably just go pick them up. No? 

techpriest's picture

Last I heard the US has the capacity to put 10,000 troops anywhere in 24 hours?

Mike Masr's picture
‘As fast as they want’: US commander says Russia outpaces NATO in deployment capabilities


roadhazard's picture

Yeah, like that is going to happen. Get a grip.

nevadan's picture

WTF kind of security would that base have to have to be overrun by ISIS anyway.  Ditto on the get a grip.

KnuckleDragger-X's picture

Lunatics with bombs. That gives me a doomsday woodie......

Skiprrrdog's picture

Good deal...memo to bad guys...please steal the nukes and incinerate the USSA


Someone who no longer gives a fuck...


OR alternately, drop one on the Muzzie in Chiefs head while he is gobbling some ollie-gark ween in the vineyard... be the ultimate homo-auto-erotic episode for the little feller...

PoasterToaster's picture
PoasterToaster (not verified) Aug 15, 2016 12:15 PM

How else are they going to outdo themselves with 9/11 2.0?  These traitors are going to destroy the country.

VWAndy's picture

 What? Nobody on the base has a pair of wire cutturs or a pack of matches?

tricorn teacup's picture

Rendering a nuke bomb inoperative shouldn't be so difficult.  But short of a nuclear event you'd still have the refined material to be salvaged and turned into a new bomb.

VWAndy's picture

 Not after a rocket fuel

Salsa Verde's picture

Well...if they "go missing" the US will effectively give itself carte blanche permission to kick in every single door in the Middle East; much quicker than trying to buy off diplomats or fomenting insurgencies.

EmmittFitzhume's picture

Hey US Government, why the FUCK are you telling everyone where our weapons are?  

Vageling's picture

Common knowledge. Well not for MSM zombies. You guys have 22 of those spread over 11 faults in a bunker on our AFB. 

Knowing where they are is one thing. How to get them off the base undetected is another thing. 

SillySalesmanQuestion's picture

Can the Pentagon "confirm" that it has fifty, or will the figure be "revised" like BLS statistics, or "lost",
like the $540 billion, that is "unaccounted for..."

Jim in MN's picture

Weather-related warhead adjustment.  It's down there by the little asterisk that says 'you can't sue us'.

Jethro Dull's picture

Seasonally adjusted warheads.

gonetogalt's picture

My understanding (sorry, lost the link) is that about 50 are 'allocated' to the Turkish Air Force, another 40 are 'allocated' to USAF.

So under NATO treaties, just how do we get them back???

aliki's picture

id like to think theres a self-destruct button a marine on the ground or someone at the pentagon cud push to disable & destroy the thing the second someone other than us touches the damn thing

nakki's picture

Man these guys have to be geniuses, I would have never thought of that. What could go wrong with having nuclear weapons in a country that supports extremists.

Keeping nuclear weapons in a very unstable region makes as much sense as trying to "crush" Russia because everyone knows destabilizing a nation with nuclear capabilities is the way to go.


gonetogalt's picture

They have been there for over 50 years, remember the 'Cuban' missle crisis? Resolved when US pulled ballistic missiles out of Turkey.

Nobody said anything about gravity bombs.

mary mary's picture

They've been there so long nobody on the base can even find them.  They're probably under 30 tons of garbage and old Playboy magazines.  "We ARE looking, General, sir.  Are you SURE this is the right base they said they delivered them to?"

orifice of omaha's picture

Couple of truth bombs wouldn't hurt either.