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Turkey’s Nuclear Bluff Unsettles Neighbors

September 9, 2019 Topic: Security Region: Middle East Blog Brand: Middle East Watch Tags: TurkeySyriaRecep ErdoganNuclearKurds

Turkey’s Nuclear Bluff Unsettles Neighbors

Did Erdoğan set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East?

“It would not be a trivial military operation, but there's no question they could overrun the base and take the bombs,” Cirincione claimed. “How many red flashing lights do you need before you take the bombs out of Turkey? It’s an insane place to keep nuclear weapons.”

Even if they’re physically captured, these bombs likely have a device called a permissive action link meant to keep them locked under U.S. control. “I wouldn't bypass that lock, but for people who know about them, who understand what the basis of the lock is,” Cirincione said, trailing off. “Turkey is a very capable country with a lot of very smart technicians.”

“We’re never going to use the bombs we store in Turkey, but Erdoğan might,” he concluded.

Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest and a former Foreign Language Area Studies fellow at Columbia University. His work has been published in Reason and America Magazine.

Image: Reuters