The story sounds kind of hard to believe: Super-power USA is abandoning the Middle East and plans to transfer some 50 tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) stationed in the air base of Incirlik in Turkey to European Romania?
In an exclusive report, EU affairs website EurActiv.com quotes “sources” who claim the transfer of “20+ nuclear weapons” from Turkey to Romania because of the deterioration of relations between Washington and Ankara after the failed coup of July 15th and Washington’s reluctance to extradite preacher Fetullah Gulen. Ankara believes the US government supports the Turkish US-exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom it accuses of having masterminded the failed coup.
Two independent sources told EurActiv.com that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, against the background of worsening relations between Washington and Ankara .
According to one of the sources, the transfer has been very challenging in technical and political terms.
“It’s not easy to move 20+ nukes,” said the source, on conditions of anonymity.
During the failed coup in Turkey in July, Incirlik’s power was cut, and the Turkish government prohibited US aircraft from flying in or out. Eventually, the base commander was arrested and implicated in the coup. Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question, the report says.
Another source told EurActiv.com that the US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons. The American weapons are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania, the source said.
Deveselu, near the city of Caracal, is the new home of the US missile shield, which has infuriated Russia. (full story in EurActiv.com )
So far there has been no official confirmation of the claims, neither by Washington or Ankara, while Romania, foreign ministry strongly denied them. NATO sent a diplomatically worded comment to EurActiv which implies that allies must make sure that US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe remain “safe”.
“A tactical nuclear weapon (or TNW) also known as non-strategic nuclear weapon refers to a nuclear weapon which is designed to be used on a battlefield in military situations, mostly with friendly forces in proximity and perhaps even on contested friendly territory. This is opposed to strategic nuclear weapons which are designed to be mostly targeted in the enemy interior away from the war front against military bases, cities, towns, arms industries, and other hardened or larger-area targets to damage the enemy’s ability to wage war.
Tactical nuclear weapons include not only gravity bombs and short-range missiles, but also artillery shells, land mines, depth charges, and torpedoes which are equipped with nuclear warheads. Also in this category are nuclear armed ground-based or shipborne surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and air-to-air missiles.” (wikipedia)
I would be surprised if Washington took indeed such a crucial decision – in less than a month – to deploy its tactical nuclear weapon from Turkey and in fact change its geopolitical strategy when the hell is still going on in Syria and the presence of ISIS in Iraq is still strong. Or that Washington managed so quickly to make the arrangements and conclude the deployment procedures.
But maybe the whole issue of nuclear weapons deployment is just a strong warning to Turkey ahead of the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden in Ankara on 24. August.
The presence of tactical nuclear weapons in Incirlik has never been officially confirmed. But is is a common “secret” that some 50 US tactical nuclear weapons have been stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base since the Cold War. Incirlik air base is near the city of Adana in south-west Turkey, approximately 100 km from the Syrian border.