U.S. in Talks with Turkey over Antimissile Deal with China

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Oct. 24, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

The United States is in the midst of talks with Tur­key about its pending deal to pur­chase Chinese mis­sile-de­fense tech­no­logy, which a U.S. of­fi­cial said could have neg­at­ive im­plic­a­tions for the col­lect­ive se­cur­ity of NATO, Agence France-Presse re­por­ted.

Ank­ara an­nounced in Septem­ber it had chosen the Chinese-state owned China Pre­ci­sion Ma­chinery Ex­port-Im­port Corp. to provide Tur­key with a long-range air-and-mis­sile-de­fense sys­tem at a cost of $4 bil­lion. The forth­com­ing deal has wor­ried some U.S. law­makers and the head of NATO, be­cause of wor­ries the Chinese tech­no­logy will not be com­pat­ible with oth­er al­li­ance mem­ber states’ an­ti­mis­sile tech­no­logy. Those sys­tems are sup­posed to be able to con­nect with each an­oth­er, in ac­cord­ance with a plan to es­tab­lish a com­pre­hens­ive bal­list­ic-mis­sile shield. There are also con­cerns Chinese de­velopers could in­stall di­git­al back­doors in­to the tech­no­logy so that they could gain ac­cess to NATO data and mil­it­ary plans.

“We are now deal­ing with a stra­tegic mu­tu­al-de­fense ques­tion” and not simply a busi­ness de­cision, U.S. Am­bas­sad­or to Tur­key Fran­cis Ric­ciardone said to journ­al­ists in Ank­ara.

“It’s Tur­key’s sov­er­eign right to make its own de­cisions about de­fense ac­quis­i­tions,” the am­bas­sad­or said. “There is no chal­lenge, there’s no dis­agree­ment between us but we are ser­i­ously con­cerned about what this means for al­lied mis­sile air de­fense.”

The United States is car­ry­ing out spe­cial­ist-level talks with Tur­key with the aim of mak­ing sure Ank­ara is aware of all tech­nic­al de­tails as it weighs en­ter­ing in­to a fi­nal deal with China, Ric­ciardone said.

Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­dogan on Wed­nes­day stood by the de­cision to choose the Chinese firm over bids offered by European and Amer­ic­an weapons con­tract­ors that were more ex­pens­ive.

“For the mo­ment, China is of­fer­ing the best con­di­tions,” which in­clude ful­filling Tur­key’s de­sire for the an­ti­mis­sile sys­tem to be co-pro­duced to al­low for tech­no­logy trans­fer, Er­dogan said. He did not spe­cify when a fi­nal de­term­in­a­tion on go­ing for­ward with the deal might be made.

Er­dogan dis­reg­arded cri­ti­cisms the Chinese tech­no­logy would not be com­pat­ible with oth­er NATO sys­tems, not­ing that “mem­ber coun­tries routinely have Rus­si­an arms and equip­ment in their in­vent­or­ies.”

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