US further presses Turkey over Chinese missile bid

Photo: US further presses Turkey over Chinese missile bid  / Turkey

Washington has increased the intensity of its warnings against Turkish companies intent on working with a Chinese firm that was selected to construct a missile defense system, noting that the companies could risk business with their U.S. counterparts due to sanctions against the Chinese outfit.

The message was recently conveyed to Murad Bayar, the head of the Undersecreteriat for Defense Industries (SSM), by a senior U.S. military official who paid an announced visit to the Turkish capital, the Hürriyet Daily News learned from well-placed sources.

As a defense industry expert, the U.S. official discussed a wide range of issues regarding the Turkish-U.S. defense industry cooperation and sales, in the latest chain of frequent conversations between the two allies since Turkey announced Sept. 26 its decision to negotiate with China's Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp. (CPMIEC) to co-produce anti-ballistic missile system.

After firm statements from NATO and U.S. officials that the Chinese MD-2000's would never be interoperable with the NATO defense architecture, some Turkish government officials said local defense companies could work together with the CPMIEC to integrate its system into that of the alliance.

"This Chinese company is under U.S. sanctions. And these sanctions really hurt. A deal with the Chinese company will be toxic. Touching it would be like touching a poison fish. That would make it very difficult for Turkish companies to do the business they have been doing in the U.S.," was the main message delivered by Washington in the latest conversations. The companies mentioned are believed to be Aselsan, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Havelsan and Roketsan - Turkey's prominent defense companies.

U.S. officials also expressed concern at how Turkey has compared the Chinese and American offers in a similar fashion. Recalling that the two offers were fully different and incomparable, the officials underlined that the U.S. offer corresponded with Turkish government requirements for certain capabilities, while the Chinese proposal did not.

On the much-discussed issue of interoperability, the U.S. officials reiterated that the Chinese system would absolutely not be integrated into the NATO defense architecture in line with the alliance policy on keeping Russian and Chinese technologies away from NATO systems.

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