FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization

by

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 10.34.28 AM

A frontal view of four B-61 nuclear free-fall bombs on a bomb cart. Photograph by SSGT PHIL SCHMITTEN, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

 

An explosive cocktail of military instability mixed with 11-foot long US nuclear bombs raises the specter of accidental or suicidal detonation in or near Turkey. This risk was brought into extreme relief by the attempted military coup there in mid-July.

In June, I warned in CounterPunch magazine and elsewhere that the Pentagon’s 50 to 90 B61 thermonuclear gravity bombs deployed at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey are too dangerous to keep so close to a warzone — Incirlik is 100 miles from Islamic State territory — especially with racists Donald Trump and Ted Cruz pursuing the White House. Journalists with the Los Angeles Times, the Japan Times, Foreign Policy, or the San Antonio Express News don’t read my columns, but suddenly the Pentagon’s nuclear bombs in Turkey are a hot topic.

Tobin Harshaw reports for Bloomberg July 25 — although he mischaracterized the bombs — “Until recently, the question of whether the United States should continue to station nuclear missiles [sic] in Turkey was of interest only to a passel of national-security geeks and nonproliferation advocates. One failed coup later, the discussion has spread to CNN, The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post and elsewhere.”

Harshaw went on to validate an analysis by Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of Int’l Studies, who argues that in the wake of the failed coup, “Turkey is not a sensible base for nuclear deterrence.” But in the irrational, self-contradictory realm of nuclear war planning, the B61s are being stored at Incirlik because military hawks insist on “maintaining the capability to attack Iran” with H-bombs, Harshaw reported. Never mind that Russia and Pakistan would doubtless retaliate with their nuclear warheads if the US used its own against Iran.

The reasons why our military’s so-called “forward deployment” of the B61s amounts to nuclear madness were only highlighted by the bloody, hapless coup inside Turkey. The B61s’ uselessness and vulnerability — anti-war protesters have regularly snuck into NATO bases where B61s are stored — have been broadcast by major news outlets from New York to Tokyo:

1) The Los Angeles Times reported July 23: “The base was an operational center of the attempted coup,” which, US military experts said, demonstrated “a worrying level of instability in Turkey’s military command close to the B61s.” Wikipedia lists 20 terrorist strikes inside Turkey since 9/11.

2) The B61s stored at Incirlik are designed for the McDonnell Douglas Corporation’s long-range, high speed F-15E jet fighter and for Lockheed Martin’s F-16 jet fighter, according to the Washington Post. But none of these planes are based at Incirlik or in the Turkish Air Force. As the LA Times reported, “The US does not have aircraft at Incirlik qualified to deliver the weapons.” (“In order for the weapons to actually be used, the US would have to fly a squadron of aircraft into Incirlik to load the bombs, all of which would be observed by Russia and possibly make the base a target for a first strike,” the Times reported.)

3) The B61s are designed to prevent unauthorized use as they have safeguards known as “use controls” and “permissive action links.” But Robert Peurifoy, formerly of the Sandia National Laboratory where he, according to the LA Times, “designed the first use controls on weapons based in Europe,” said that the “use controls may only impede and delay a terrorist. … Either you keep custody or you should expect a mushroom cloud.”

4) General Eugene Habiger (USAF Ret.), a former commander of all Air Force and Navy strategic nuclear weapons (he led the Strategic Command from 1996 to 1998), told the San Antonio Express News July 22 “the bombs no longer have any military usefulness.” And Gen. Habiger warned, “It’s a very, very dangerous weapon in terms of military consequences, political consequences, and I think what happened in Turkey highlights the potential unintended consequences of having nuclear weapons forward deployed if there is no military requirement.”

5) The B61s will almost certainly never be used, according to Aaron Stein, a Turkey analyst at the Atlantic Council, who spoke to the LA Times. This common knowledge moved Gen. Habiger to ask, “Why does NATO need nuclear weapons?”

Why indeed. As Jeffrey Lewis noted June 18, “after the events of the past weekend, leaving them in place seems positively terrifying,” wild Turkey becomes that latest and best reason ever to permanently remove US nuclear weapons from Turkey.

SIDEBAR

How powerful is the B61 gravity bomb?

* Bloomberg News says the B61 is a “variable-yield” device, meaning the size of the explosion can be between .3 kilotons [300 tons] and 340 kilotons of TNT equivalent.

* The Los Angeles Times reports that it can be programed to have between 300 tons of TNT explosive force [.3 kilotons], and 170,000 tons [170 kilotons].

* Nuclear weapons analyst John Pike, with www.globalsecurity.org, says “yields range from “a few hundred tons to 160 kilotons.”

* The Nuclear Weapons Datebook, Vol. 1 (Ballinger, 1988) says the yield is from 100 to 500 kilotons.

To compare: the US Army Air Corp’s Hiroshima bomb, which incinerated 7 square miles and killed 140,000 people, was 15 kilotons.

More articles by:

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail