United States still stores roughly 50 nuclear weapons in Turkey


Washington (October 22, 2019) – In the wake of Vice President Mike Pence’s meeting last week with Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) is asking the Vice President if he raised nuclear weapons issues in the discussions. Last month, President Erdogan said, “[s]ome countries have missiles with nuclear warheads, not one or two. But [they tell us] we can’t have them. This, I cannot accept.” Turkey has already signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Additionally, President Trump recently acknowledged that the United States still stores roughly 50 nuclear weapons at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base.


“Recent actions by the Trump administration, including President Trump’s capitulation to Turkish demands in northeast Syria, the failure to apply mandatory sanctions following Turkey’s purchase of a Russian air defense system, and President Trump’s open opposition to implementing U.S. nonproliferation sanctions against North Korea may only have emboldened President Erdogan’s nuclear ambitions,” writes Senator Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 


A copy of Senator Markey’s letter to Vice President Pence can be HERE.

In his letter, Senator Markey asks for responses to questions that include:

  • Has President Erdogan signaled to you or any other senior official an intent to pursue a nuclear weapons program?
  • Have you or other senior officials raised Turkey’s nonproliferation commitment in your discussions with President Erdogan?
  • What is the strategic rationale for storing roughly 50 U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey, decades after initial deployment?
  • How would the development of a Saudi nuclear weapon affect President Ergodan’s nuclear ambitions?