Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Sunday that his country could shut down its Incirlik air base, which hosts US nuclear warheads, in response to threats of US sanctions and a separate US Senate resolution that recognized mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide.
“If it is necessary for us to take such a step, of course we have the authority … If this is necessary, together with our delegations, we will close down Incirlik if necessary,” Erdogan said, as quoted by Reuters.
Turkey can also close down the Kurecik radar base if necessary, he added.
“If they are threatening us with the implementation of these sanctions, of course we will be retaliating,” said Erdogan.
Last Thursday, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution that recognizes as a genocide the mass killings of Armenians a century ago.
The resolution asserts that it is US policy to commemorate as genocide the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. The Ottoman Empire was centered in present-day Turkey.
Armenians have long sought international recognition for the 1915-1917 killings in the Ottoman era as genocide, which they say left some 1.5 million of their people dead.
Turkey — the Ottoman Empire’s successor state — strongly rejects that the massacres, imprisonment and forced deportation of Armenians from 1915 amounted to a genocide.
Separately, tensions between Washington and Ankara have soared due to Turkey’s purchase of advanced S-400 missile systems from Russia.
A US Senate committee last week backed legislation to impose sanctions on Turkey in response to the purchase.
Turkey, for its part, has made clear it will use the Russian system despite US threats of sanctions.