What is Turkey up to with the USAF air base at Incirlik?

Ever since the purported coup attempt against Turkey’s President Erdogan, Turkish security forces have surrounded the USAF facilities at Incirlik Air Base in that country.  Now it’s reported that the base has been sealed off once more.  To say this is ‘worrying’ is a serious understatement, because the US maintains several dozen nuclear warheads at Incirlik as part of its NATO commitment.

There are all sorts of rumors that Erdogan may be contemplating declaring another Islamic Caliphate, this one based in Turkey (with himself at its head, of course).  Purportedly, some Gulf states may bankroll such a development.  It’s even reported that a Turkish delegation may be in Pakistan, discussing the procurement of nuclear weapons to arm a future Caliphate.

Could it be that someone in Turkey is thinking about a few dozen nuclear warheads that are already on Turkish soil, and ripe for the taking?  Are they perhaps considering that President Obama would do little or nothing to stop such a takeover, except scold the perpetrators?

One wonders . . .



  1. I am not thrilled at the idea of 40-90 thermonuclear weapons in the wrong hands. Especially people that think killing Jews and Christians is a means to gain paradise. It seems like a bad combination.

  2. The USA should have a back up plan to secure those weapons, or in a worst case scenario, to destroy them by ANY means necessary- this includes a ICBM strike. Letting those nukes fall into the hands of the Islamist terrorists would be indescribable folly.

  3. Get everything out of there, burn the place to the ground, and crater the runways.

    Short of "Nuking it from orbit", it's the only way….

  4. Even in the extremely unlikely event those weapons were to fall into unauthorized hands it would take a nuclear weapons engineering team to basically rebuild the weapons. They can't be detonated without the proper codes and even slightly tampering with the weapon destroys the very delicate fusing systems. They'd have to disassemble the weapon components and either reverse engineer or build an entirely new fuzing system. Thermonuclear weapons are fussy and are quite difficult to get to work. lots of very complicated things have to done with incredibly precise timing, with amazing precision to get one to properly detonate.

    That said I'm guessing those weapons are either gone or permanently disabled. There were some indications from the US military that during or shortly preceeding the coup attempt/coup theater that something extraordinary may have been initiated in regards to those weapons.

    Also can we just gtfo of Turkey? I think we've caused enough mess in the middle east in the past decade or so. Not content on throwing the most volatile part of the world into chaos our government seems bell bent on picking a fight with Russia. If that's not enough they're itching to fight the Chinese over some miserable sandbars and reefs on the other side of the planet. All the while they're opening the floodgates to every middle eastern Muslim, Chinese and Russian who wants to immigrate here. The people in charge are utterly and irredeemably mad.

  5. That last comment I liked. I also wrote something like that on a different blog. We don't need be involved over there. Let the Russians handle it. And we also don't need a war with China over some empty sand dunes.

  6. Anonymous@4:48. The problem is, you are assuming that whoever is after the nuclear devices doesn't have the ability to make their own, and that calculation changes once Pakistan enters the scene. Pakistan already has nuclear technology, in which case, these devices might be seen as a source of already enriched & purified nuclear material (Plus, you get the bonus of seeing how the U.S. built its' devices).
    Now I'll grant you, Pakistan's technology might not be as sophisticated as the technology from the U.S., but with enough starting material, that wouldn't matter.

    The question then becomes, where do they get used, and in what manner.

  7. raven, why would we need to send ICBMs to destroy the nukes? Put them all in one hangar and set one off.

    Missiles are expensive.

  8. Islam is Enemy #1. The sooner the U.S. officially recognizes that, the sooner we can start reorienting our foreign policy. Russia and China are frenemies, we can work with them when it makes sense and oppose them at other times.

  9. Dave,
    we might get to a point where there is no one left on the ground to throw the switch.

    Anon 448- this may be true- but to assume your enemy does not or cannot have the capacity is not an allowable risk in this circumstance. In the risk chart, it is "low probability, but nation destroying".

    Wonder what the Russians and Chinese would do to get their hands on a working US warhead?

  10. I don't think there is any worry except for Muslims. They seem to be the ones bent on destruction of the West. Russians and China seem to be part of the solution.

  11. While I'm sure Erdogan would like to be more powerful, we can be pretty confident he ISN'T going to start another Caliphate: Under Islam, the word 'Caliphate' has specific meanings both geographically and ancestrally; the Caliphate can only be led by a leader known to be descended from the last Caliph AND it must be declared in a specific Syrian city. Erdogan doesn't, and can't, meet either requirement – but I suspect he wouldn't mind resurrecting the Ottoman Empire and becoming more of a power player!
    For more information on the nuclear weapons in Turkey, see here and follow some of the links in it: http://fas.org/blogs/security/2015/09/nuclear-insecurity/

  12. it wouldn't take a great deal of time or equipment the utterly wreck every one of those weapons and render them into useless slag-with the exception of the actual physics package which could be spirited away quickly if one needed to. The splodey bits could be burned or smashed to bits with a hammer. The complex arming and electrical systems could be smashed and melted with an oxy acetylene torch or thermite. About all that would be left it the actual bomb shell and parachute assembly. The weapons in Turkey are probably B61s. There are plenty of parts views of the internals online. Look them up. Fascinating machines.

  13. Quote "Are they perhaps considering that President Obama would do little or nothing to stop such a takeover, except scold the perpetrators?"

    Why would he scold them for doing exactly what he told them to do.

  14. Well, looks like nothing happened.

    I would like to point out that modern nuclear weapons are very delicate and require extremely precise timing of the implosion device to properly trigger a nuclear detonation. If the explosive liner doesn't compress the fissile core evenly, the yield drops. The worse the timing, the lower the yield. At the low end, no fission occurs and the atomized remains of the core is scattered over several hectares of land.

    I wouldn't be surprised if most of the warheads in the USA's arsenal could be set to self-destruct in this way. Not only does it deny the technical knowledge our enemies could gain from reverse-engineering the warheads, but it also denies them free fissile material unless they're willing to sift thousands of tons of topsoil for a few hundred pounds of plutonium dust.

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