WASHINGTON – American nuclear weapons stored in the NATO Incirlik Air Base in Turkey are under the risk of seizure by terrorists, the defence experts say. The approximate maintenance of B61 weapons cost $740 million per year.
Incirlik NATO Air base situated less than 70 miles from the border with Syria is the site of approximately 50 US tactical nuclear weapons. The weapons have no military value and sustaining the weapons together with maintaining the readiness of aircraft and crews to deliver bombs is itself a waste of resources, claim defence experts Barry Blechman and Laicie Heelley from Stimson Institute in Washington. Experts left no doubts that the B61 nuclear weapons program is an anachronism because “the likelihood of their use is extremely low, their presumed political value is a chimera”. In their opinion Russian and Chinese air defences are improving “significantly enough” to justify construction of a new long-range bomber and the anti-missile defence system by the United States instead.
In their report “B61 Life Extension program” experts raise also doubts whether the United States can eliminate the risk of terrorist attack against the base and seizure of nuclear weapons. Blechman and Heeley propose three alternatives to the storage of ageing B61. One of the alternative is removal of these weapons from Europe.
Stimson Institute report on the nuclear weapons in Europe coincides with recent Russian efforts to acquire an access to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.
Last Wednesday Russian Duma member Igor Morozov suggested that Turkish authorities could offer Russia use of the airbase in its anti-ISIS operations. “Turkey can provide the Incirlik base to the Russian Aerospace Forces for its use in counterterrorism operations [in Syria]. This can become a logical continuation of Turkish President Erdogan’s step toward Russia,” he told RIA Novosti.
Another senior Russian politician Senator Viktor Ozerov, member of Russia’s Federation Council Defense and Security Committee, did not rule out that Ankara could offer the use of its air base.
Morozov’s and Ozerov’s comments came the day after Russian long-range bombers took off near the Iranian city of Hamedan, 280 kilometers (175 miles) southwest of the Iranian capital, and struck targets in three provinces in northern and eastern Syria.
Last month coup in Turkey raised questions about the security of the Incirklik Air Base in southern Turkey. During the coup the NATO military base survived an electricity shortage for six days. “Generated electric power capability will be maintained for the base should the commercial electricity be interrupted again”, Pentagon officials said after reconnection of commercial service. Recently, the Turkish radicals organised demonstrations against USA and NATO at the front of the base.