The H-Bombs in Turkey

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B-61 nuclear bombs, the type stored at Incirlik Airbase in Turkey. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense (SSGT Phil Schmitten) - Public Domain

B-61 nuclear bombs, the type stored at Incirlik Airbase in Turkey. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense (SSGT Phil Schmitten) – Public Domain

By Dexter Filkins
The New Yorker

Among the many questions still unanswered following Friday’s coup attempt in Turkey is one that has national-security implications for the United States and for the rest of the world: How secure are the American hydrogen bombs stored at a Turkish airbase?

The Incirlik Airbase, in southeast Turkey, houses nato’s largest nuclear-weapons storage facility. On Saturday morning, the American Embassy in Ankara issued an “Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens,” warning that power had been cut to Incirlik and that “local authorities are denying movements on to and off of” the base. Incirlik was forced to rely on backup generators; U.S. Air Force planes stationed there were prohibited from taking off or landing; and the security-threat level was raised to fpcon Delta, the highest state of alert, declared when a terrorist attack has occurred or may be imminent. On Sunday, the base commander, General Bekir Ercan Van, and nine other Turkish officers at Incirlik were detained for allegedly supporting the coup. As of this writing, American flights have resumed at the base, but the power is still cut off.

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