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An obscure website published a vague report Thursday making the dramatic claim that relations between Washington and Ankara had deteriorated so badly that the United States had begun moving nuclear weapons from Turkey to Romania.
The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any basis at all for the report, which alleged B61 nuclear weapons were on their way to Romania’s Deveselu base. Romania’s defense ministry promptly denied it and experts dismissed the idea as illogical for technical and other reasons.
But that didn’t stop some of Russia’s rabidly anti-American news outlets, including Sputnik and Pravda, from picking up the story and running with it.
“Where do U.S. nuclear weapons travel from Turkey?” read a piece in Pravda posted Friday, speculating wildly about how the whole alleged transfer would work.
Although the Obama administration declined to comment, officials privately scoffed at the report when asked by FP.
The article that set off the chatter came from EuroActiv, and did not impress nuclear weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis, the director of non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey.
For starters, Lewis tweeted, Romania does not have the special WS3 vaults needed to store the weapons safely. And, he noted, the article lacked evidence or quotes to back it up.
“They consulted one person, a generalist who said it was bunk, and Romania, which denied it. Then published anyway,” tweeted Lewis, a contributor to Foreign Policy.