President Donald Trump, on Wednesday, confirmed that the United States has nuclear weapons in Turkey. Trump was asked about at the White House those weapon’s security after Turkey has gone against U.S. wishes by invading northern Syria after Trump ordered Uto withdraw U.S. troops from the region.
However, he has not completely confirmed that the weapons were there, but he went along with the premise, saying that “we’re confident” they’ll be safe “and we have a great airbase there – a very powerful airbase.”
The U.S. government officials have long avoided disclosing or even confirming widely believed locations of U.S. nuclear weapons. Kingston Reif, the director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, said that “As a matter of policy, the Defense Department does not comment on the presence of nuclear weapons in Turkey or anywhere else in Europe.”
Jessica Varnum, deputy director at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies’ James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies stated, “U.S. and NATO officials do not, as a matter of policy, confirm the existence, locations or numbers of tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.”
However, in Turkey, the existence of the weapons is not exactly a secret. Reif stated that “the Air Force, in its fiscal year 2015 budget request, noted the presence of ‘special weapons’ at ‘storage sites in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.”‘ As per other experts, it is not an easy matter to hide such weapons.
A NATO-affiliated body, last July published a document that confirmed that nuclear weapons were being housed in those same five countries. The document from a Canadian senator for the Defense and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly said the U.S. nukes were in Incirlik in Turkey.
Vipin Narang, a nuclear proliferation expert at M.I.T., said: “Incirlik is Turkey’s airbase, not ours.”
“And that is essentially the problem. We store these nuclear weapons in secure vaults on a Turkish airbase, where we either have to secure them under the present circumstances or bring transport aircraft to the base, move them on a Turkish airbase and then fly them out of Turkish airspace if we wanted to extract them,” he added.
“Under the present circumstances, that is not a simple logistical or security feat.”
“If the Air Force found a new nation willing to host the nukes, James said, it would have to take ‘the greatest of care’ in their removal and transport. If the receiving base did not have the facilities or security necessary, James said, it would require a significant construction effort. And NATO would likely be involved.”