Ankara’s recent closeness with Moscow and worsening relations with Washington post failed military coup might be a reason that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania.
According to a report by Euractiv quoting two independent sources Thursday, US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania.
US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the coup that Washington no longer trusts Ankara to host the weapons, according to an unnamed source. The American weapons are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania, the source said.
The news report even names the new home for the US missile shield in Romania although the Romanian foreign ministry strongly denied the information that the country has become home of US nukes. “In response to your request, Romanian MFA firmly dismisses the information you referred to,” spokesperson is quoted as writing to the news daily.
Deveselu, near the city of Caracal, is the new home of the US missile shield, the news report said.
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.
According to a report by Stimson published earlier this month, Although most US tactical weapons were withdrawn from Europe during the early 1990s, 180 of the tactical versions of the B61s remain at six bases in Europe – in Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Turkey – as symbols of US nuclear commitments to NATO. All the bases, except the one in Turkey, have US or Allied fighter jets equipped to deliver the bombs; the Turkish base does not have a permanent fighter wing but essentially operates as a nuclear storage depot.
Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base has been the subject of even greater concern given its close proximity to war-torn Syria. The base is less than 70 miles from Syria’s border, which prompted the evacuation of the dependents of US service members; yet it is also the site of approximately 50 US tactical nuclear weapons, the report stated.
During the failed coup in Turkey in July, power to the base was cut off and the Turkish government prohibited US aircraft from flying in or out. Eventually, the base commander was arrested and implicated in the coup planning. Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question, it added.