Incirlik Air Base: Post-Coup Power Cut Remains at U.S. Site
A U.S. Air Force F-16C Falcon fighter takes off from Incirlik air base with the Sabanci mosque in the background, near the southern Turkish city of Adana, Friday Jan. 24, 2003, for a daily mission over the no-fly zone in northern Iraq.Murad Sezer / AP file
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Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that he was confident that power would be restored, and it could happen within a day or so.
No one is locked anywhere on the base, which has about 2,700 Defense Department civilians and military personnel, officials said. But people were not permitted to leave Wednesday for security reasons.
Turkish officials did not respond to requests for comment and information on the power cut. Erdogan told CNN earlier this week that power was shut off at military bases around the country to reduce the risk that conspirators might be able to use them.
On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner acknowledged power had been cut to the site — which is used by the U.S. to launch anti-ISIS strikes.
As of Wednesday, some 8,660 people had been detained throughout the country — most of them members of the military. Some 15,200 Education Ministry workers, 8,777 Interior Ministry officials and 2,745 judges had been fired from their jobs, according to the government. The government has also "requested" that 1,577 university deans resign from their jobs.
Turkey has asked the U.S. extradite Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and denies any involvement in the attempted coup.
Washington said it was reviewing documents it had received from Ankara but was still determining if the materials constituted a formal extradition request. Kerry said he discussed Gulen with the Turkish Foreign Minister and asked that he send evidence, not allegations.
But these are temporary measures and do not provide a long-term solution for Incirlik.
Not only is Turkey the main gateway for foreign fighters traveling in and out of Syria, it is widely believed that NATO nuclear warheads are stored under the base. The U.S. has never admitted it houses such weapons at Incirlik.
According to Jeffrey Lewis, of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, references to “special weapons” kept at the facility was a way of saying “nuclear” warheads.
Incirlik AB is a glorified storage depot for NATO nukes. Maybe time to put it someplace more stable? https://t.co/48zXvvA49o
The New Yorker magazine also quoted Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, as saying that vaults beneath the base have about 50 B-61 hydrogen bombs — more than 25 percent of NATO's nuclear weapons stockpile.
Nazli Avdan, assistant professor of political science at the University of Kansas, said the chaos, uncertainty and Erdogan's crackdown may eventually result in the U.S. leaving the site.
“There's the possibility of Incirlik Air Base being shut down for good because there's a nuclear arsenal there,” she said.