Two independent sources told EurActiv.com that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, amid deterioration of the relations between Washington and Ankara. The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) strongly denied the information, while Romania Defense minister said there are mere speculations.
According to one of the sources, the transfer has been very challenging in technical and political terms. “It’s not easy to move 20+ nukes,” said the source, on conditions of anonymity.
According to a report by the Simson Center, since the Cold War, some 50 US tactical nuclear weapons have been stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, approximately 100 kilometres from the Syrian border, Euractiv.com reports.
During the failed coup in Turkey in July, Incirlik’s power was cut, and the Turkish government prohibited US aircraft from flying in or out. Eventually, the base commander was arrested and implicated in the coup. Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question, the report says.
Another source told EurActiv.com that the US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons. The American weapons are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania, the source said.
Deveselu, near the city of Caracal, is the new host of the US missile shield, which has enraged Russia.
The Romanian foreign ministry strongly denied the information that the country has become home of US nukes. “In response to your request, Romanian MFA firmly dismisses the information you referred to,” a spokesperson wrote.
Also asked about the information on the nuclear gun relocation, Defense Minister Mihnea Motoc retorted there are mere speculations.
“There is no meeting or plans in this respect”, Motoc said in Buzau on Thursday, as quoted by news.ro.
NATO sent EurActiv a diplomatically worded comment which implies that allies must make sure that US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe remain “safe”.
“On your question, please check the Communiqué of the NATO Warsaw Summit (published on 9 July 2016), paragraph 53: “NATO’s nuclear deterrence posture also relies, in part, on United States’ nuclear weapons forward-deployed in Europe and on capabilities and infrastructure provided by Allies concerned. These Allies will ensure that all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective,” a NATO spokesperson wrote to EurActiv.
Reactions from the US and Turkish sides are still pending.
A Romanian ex-FM stance
Romanian former FM Cristian Diaconescu says that domestic legislation bans the import and transit of the nuclear weapons on the national territory, as Romania is also member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Diaconescu told Mediafax that by spreading this information on the nuclear weapon transfer from Incirlik, Turkey to Romania, “compromising the defensive role of the Deveselu base” is eyed. The former FM also says that launching this information after the “counterfeit scandal on the gun running” proves that Romania is “the target of a sustained informational war”.