Republicans Criticize Possible Turkey-China Antimissile Deal

Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire
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Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire
Oct. 11, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

WASH­ING­TON — Re­pub­lic­an law­makers in both cham­bers are ur­ging the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to use dip­lo­mat­ic and mil­it­ary levers to pres­sure Tur­key in­to abandon­ing its plans to pur­chase a long-range mis­sile-de­fense sys­tem from China.

Crit­ics of the pos­sible deal, an­nounced last month, are con­cerned it could en­danger the in­teg­rity of NATO’s evolving bal­list­ic mis­sile shield as China might seek to use the sys­tem it sells to Tur­key to il­li­citly ex­tract data from the al­li­ance’s inter-con­nec­ted mis­sile de­fense net­work. Be­cause of this fear, op­pon­ents ar­gue Ank­ara should not be per­mit­ted to con­nect the FD-2000 an­ti­mis­sile sys­tem it is in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing from a Chinese com­pany with the broad­er al­li­ance mis­sile shield. There are also doubts that the Chinese tech­no­logy could be made com­pat­ible with oth­er NATO an­ti­mis­sile as­sets.

“We strongly urge you to ex­ert all avail­able dip­lo­mat­ic pres­sure to pre­vent Turk­ish pro­cure­ment of a [China Pre­ci­sion Mil­it­ary Im­port and Ex­port Corp.] mis­sile de­fense sys­tem and en­sure NATO will nev­er al­low such a sys­tem to be in­teg­rated in­to NATO’s se­cur­ity ar­chi­tec­ture,” say a group of GOP sen­at­ors in a let­ter draf­ted for sub­mis­sion, pos­sibly on Fri­day, to Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry and De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel.

The state-owned CP­MIEC com­pany was sanc­tioned by the U.S. gov­ern­ment earli­er this year for vi­ol­at­ing the 2006 Ir­an, North Korea and Syr­ia Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Act.

As of press time, the let­ter had been signed by Sen­at­ors Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ro­ger Wick­er (R-Miss.), John Bar­rasso (R-Wyo.), John Booz­man (R-Ark.) and James In­hofe (R-Okla.). A copy of it was provided to Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire.

Mem­bers of the House also are con­cerned about the se­cur­ity rami­fic­a­tions of the pos­sible weapons deal.

House Armed Ser­vices Stra­tegic Forces Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Mike Ro­gers (R-Ala.) in an e-mailed state­ment said news of the deal sent “a chill through the spine of mem­bers of Con­gress who care about NATO and Tur­key’s align­ment with the West.”

Tur­key, as a NATO mem­ber, is par­ti­cip­at­ing in the al­li­ance plan to build a bal­list­ic-mis­sile shield that would cov­er all NATO ter­rit­ory. While the United States is sup­ply­ing most of the crit­ic­al as­sets for the shield, oth­er mem­ber states are ex­pec­ted to aug­ment it by en­han­cing and inter-con­nect­ing their own do­mest­ic an­ti­mis­sile cap­ab­il­it­ies.

Ank­ara main­tains it has the sole right to de­cide which mis­sile-de­fense sys­tem to buy.

“It is def­in­itely, it’s go­ing to be na­tion­al cap­ab­il­ity first and fore­most, and it’s go­ing to be a na­tion­al de­cision,” Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry spokes­man Levent Gum­ruk­cu was quoted by Voice of Amer­ica as say­ing this week.

Ank­ara in­sists the FD-2000 would be fully in­ter­op­er­able with oth­er NATO an­ti­mis­sile as­sets and says it has made this a re­quire­ment of any deal with the CP­MIEC firm.

NATO Sec­ret­ary Gen­er­al An­ders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday said it was crit­ic­al that all mem­ber states’ na­tion­al mis­sile de­fenses be inter-op­er­able with one an­oth­er.

The U.S. State De­part­ment though, has already gone on re­cord as say­ing the FD-2000 “will not be inter-op­er­able with NATO sys­tems or col­lect­ive de­fense cap­ab­il­it­ies.”

“It is in no one’s in­terest that Tur­key choose a sys­tem … which could nev­er be in­teg­rated with the rest of NATO’s de­fense cap­ab­il­it­ies,” Ro­gers said. “In es­sence, Tur­key would be weak­en­ing it­self for little ap­par­ent gain.”

Even if the FD-2000 could be in­teg­rated with NATO as­sets, there are still the wor­ries in Con­gress that the soft­ware would be com­prom­ised by di­git­al back-doors cre­ated by Chinese de­velopers in­tent on gain­ing ac­cess to al­li­ance data.

“Since Tur­key is fully in­teg­rated in­to NATO’s mis­sile de­fense net­work, such as the NATO Air De­fense Ground En­vir­on­ment, we are con­cerned about the risk of third-coun­try ac­cess to NATO and U.S. clas­si­fied data and tech­no­logy,” reads the sen­at­ors’ let­ter to Hagel and Kerry.

The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment said it chose the Chinese sys­tem over oth­er an­ti­mis­sile sys­tems offered for sale by U.S., European and Rus­si­an man­u­fac­tur­ers be­cause at $3.4 bil­lion it is con­sid­er­ably less-ex­pens­ive and po­ten­tially could be co-pro­duced with Tur­key, al­low­ing for tech­no­logy trans­fer.

Should Ank­ara fi­nal­ize a de­vel­op­ment con­tract with the CP­MIEC firm, the sen­at­ors want the United States and NATO to con­sider ex­pelling Tur­key from the al­li­ance’s Air De­fense Ground En­vir­on­ment, through which the coun­try re­ceives con­sid­er­able fin­an­cial sup­port for its air-de­fense radars.

The U.S. State De­part­ment says mul­tiple seni­or of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Kerry, have already voiced op­pos­i­tion to Ank­ara about the pos­sible deal with China.

“We have con­veyed our ser­i­ous con­cerns about the Turk­ish Gov­ern­ment’s con­tract dis­cus­sions with the U.S.-sanc­tioned com­pany for a mis­sile de­fense sys­tem that will not be in­ter­op­er­able with­in — with NATO sys­tems or col­lect­ive de­fense cap­ab­il­it­ies,” State De­part­ment spokes­wo­man Mar­ie Harf said at a Monday press brief­ing.

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