The U.S. is reviewing plans to evacuate roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons it is storing in Turkey, NY Times reported citing two American officials.
According to the report, the U.S. State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans, over the weekend, to remove the strategic weapons it had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base, about 250 miles from the Syrian border.
The relation between Turkey and the West is deteriorating day by day after Ankara launched a long-planned military offensive, codenamed Operation Peace Spring, into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought the Turkish state for more than three decades. But the US backs the YPG and SDF, and credits the Kurds for helping defeat ISIS in Syria.
Turkey is reportedly hosting 50 B61 thermonuclear gravity bombs as part of NATO’s nuclear sharing policy. The weapons are under U.S. control but may experts have raised concerns regarding their safety amid regional instability and political differences.
Nuclear sharing is a concept in NATO’s policy of nuclear deterrence, which involves member countries without nuclear weapons of their own in the planning for the use of nuclear weapons by NATO. In particular, it provides for the armed forces of those countries to be involved in delivering nuclear weapons in the event of their use.
Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy also host U.S. B61 nuclear bombs as part of the nuclear sharing policy.