FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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

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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
Tracey Aikman
President Trump, I’m One of the Workers You Lied To
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
David Yearsley
Jazz is Activism
Elliot Sperber
Captains of Industry 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail