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U.S. Nuclear Weapons Could Wind Up in the 'Wrong Hands'

B-61 Bomb Rack
The B-61 nuclear bombs stored at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey are under threat to fall into "hostile hands" due to lax security. (U.S. Military Photo)

The nuclear weapons stockpile at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey is facing a dire threat, and this time the warning isn't coming from the Right.

The Stimson Center, a left-of-center globalist think tank, has issued a review of the B-61 nuclear bombs in the U.S. arsenal and concluded the weapons are a wasteful use of taxpayer money, and are not adequately protected. Noting the 2010 security breach at Kleine Brogel Air Base in which activists climbed the base fence, the report's authors suggest the entire B-61 arsenal is at risk.

But, especially the arsenal at Incirlik Air Base:

All the bases, except the one in Turkey, have U.S. 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.

The report details the risk the weapons, which are due for "service life-extension," could pose to the U.S. and its allies. It found it was costly—estimated to be in the "hundreds of millions of dollars" each fiscal year—to ensure the bombs' security, and noted they could wind up in "hostile hands" due to lax security measures.

Again, this applies particularly to the B-61s stored at Incirlik:

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 U.S. service members; yet it is also the site of approximately 50 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. During the failed coup in Turkey in July, power to the base was cut off and the Turkish government prohibited U.S. aircraft from flying in or out. Eventually, the base commander was arrested and implicated in the coup planning. Whether the U.S. could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question.

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