US President Donald Trump isn’t one for convention. Nor is he too happy that the US bears most of the bill for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato). So Nato rules, one could imagine, do not worry him. Yet, America’s Nato allies have reason to complain. Speaking to the media, Trump appears to have confirmed the supposedly secret location of some of Nato’s nuclear weapons. A large stockpile, it seems, are housed at the Incirlik air base in Turkey.
Of course, he did not explicitly refer to these nukes. Given the fraying ties between the US and Turkey—over the latter’s military action aimed at Kurdish groups in north Syria—Trump was asked whether the nuclear arsenal in Turkey was safe. He was confident it was, he replied, adding how great and powerful a base it was. If America’s Nato allies are aghast, they should be. Officially, all that’s known is that the alliance, which dates back to the Cold War, has five strategic locations in Europe for its top weapons. The admission by Trump has stirred up a hornet’s nest in his own country too. With Turkey seen to be at loggerheads with the US, many want nukes withdrawn from its territory—just in case they fall into extremist hands, or if the country’s leadership goes rogue. That, though, would mark a break in the relationship, perhaps even split Nato.
The disclosure itself may not be of much consequence as far as strategic secrecy goes. In today’s world, even submarines are equipped with nukes and there’s no saying where these might be located. But if US-Turkey relations worsen, graver concerns would arise.