355. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State 1

2215. Reference: Deptel 2156, March 16.2 My considered view is that Turk Government would reckon that added sense of military security resulting from stationing combined American indigenous atomic task force in Turkey would outweigh political risks arising from propaganda charges that we were preparing Turkey to be “atomic battleground”.

Our views as to Turkish receptivity of American forces, their social impact on Turkey and political and security problems that might be raised were recently set forth in my letter to Reinhardt dated March 12.3 In addition to those views we believe the following points should be made:

Receptivity of Turkish Government. The Turkish military will be receptive to the idea of stationing an American ground force with an atomic capability in Turkey for substantially the same reasons that they were receptive to the stationing of a USAF all weather fighter squadron and radar unit here. They consider that a ground atomic capability is required for the survival of Turkey and would realize that under present conditions too only way in which such atomic capability could become available to Turkey quickly would be through the stationing of appropriate US forces in this country. The Turkish Government is aware that it is going to receive 2 Honest John battalions under the FY 57 program. The Turkish military will know that these 2 Honest John battalions will be inadequate to provide the degree of fire support essential to effective defense. They will estimate that the addition of the atomic capable force under consideration will greatly enhance their defensive capability and for that reason will look favorably on the offer. The proposal that the American unit be phased out of Turkey in FY 60 will serve to reduce such reluctance as the Turkish Government and people may have to permit foreign military forces, as such, to be stationed on Turkish territory. If the weapons and the equipment brought in by the American force will ultimately be made available to Turkey, as well as the permanent installations developed in [Page 714] support of them, and if the stationing of the American force is utilized to provide on the job training for Turkish personnel, the attractiveness of the offer to the Turkish Government would, of course, be correspondingly increased.
Social impact on Turkey. As indicated in paragraph 3B in my letter to Reinhardt mentioned above although the corrosive influence necessarily arising from the presence of foreign troops is comparatively negligible in Turkey at the present time, it can be expected over a period of years gradually to grow in Turkey as it would any where else. A force of the size contemplated in the reference telegram, of course, accelerates this corrosive influence, moreover the higher standards of living which would be enjoyed by the American personnel would probably pose increasingly difficult problems as Turkish personnel are actually phased into the unit. Such impact in our view could best be minimized through selection criteria which would screen carefully American personnel to be sent with the force to Turkey and through US Command supervision after arrival here.
Political and security problems. We do not expect significant internal political objection to the proposal that an atomic capable US unit be stationed in Turkey. Several weeks ago the Soviet Chargé here called on the Deputy Secretary General at Foreign Office and subsequently on the acting Foreign Minister regarding the alleged establishment of a US atomic base in Turkey which he said he had read about in an Istanbul newspaper and also in an Iranian newspaper. The response he got from the Foreign Office was that if such a thing were true, a base of this type was established for the NATO purpose of defense.

We do not envisage any unusual security problems for military units armed with conventional weapons; in the event atomic warheads are stocked in Turkey certain security precautions in regard to storage will become necessary. These security precautions will necessitate screening off certain areas to Turkish personnel and provision of American guard units. We anticipate no problem with the Turkish military on this and in so far as the Government is concerned we are confident it can be handled satisfactorily with the Prime Minister.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.56382/3–2657. Top Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution; Noforn. Repeated to Athens for principal officer only.
  2. Telegram 2156 solicited the Embassy’s views on the Turkish Government’s receptivity to the idea of stationing American forces in Turkey and to the idea of an atomic task force in the country. (Ibid., 711.56381/3–1657)
  3. The text of Warren’s reply to Reinhardt’s letter was transmitted in an unnumbered despatch, March 12. (Ibid., 711.56382/3–1257)